GAO cites VA smart-card project headway

GAO cites VA smart-card project headway

The Veterans Affairs Department is making progress on its Authentication and Authorization Infrastructure Project, which would provide departmentwide capability to authenticate users and grant them access to information systems necessary for their jobs, the Government Accountability Office said this week.

Now in limited deployment, the initiative involves a One-VA ID smart card, enterprise public-key infrastructure application, and an identity and access management infrastructure that supports the internal and external access requirements of VA users.

VA is one of nine agencies developing and implementing large-scale smart-card initiatives.

'While its project is still under development, VA has gained experience as a participant on governmentwide initiatives to further smart card adoption,' the GAO told lawmakers this week at a hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee oversight subcommittee.

VA is participating in a governmentwide purchase of smart cards. The General Services Administration is managing the purchase based on guidance from the Office of Management and Budget, said VA CIO Robert McFarland.

Initially, VA will buy 100,000 smart cards based on the new Government Smart Card Interoperability Specification v2.1. VA will start receiving these smart cards as early as this month, McFarland said. The order includes a new generation of dual-physical antenna cards which, at select facilities, will work with current physical access control systems and support the ability to migrate to systems that meet new interoperability specifications, he said.

The One-VA ID card, which will use smart-card and PKI technologies to store a user's credentials digitally, will replace several hundred methods of issuing ID cards across the department.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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