HSPD-12 Web site to post vendor products in approval queue early

As agencies scramble to meet an upcoming deadline on issuing interoperable smart cards under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, the General Services Administration is tweaking an existing Web site this month in the hopes of giving agencies a preview of products being evaluated that could help them comply with the presidential mandate.

The refurbished portal also will provide periodic updates on how vendors can get their products and services on an early-approval list for sale to agencies, GSA's April Giles said earlier this week at the Government Smart Card Interagency Advisory Board meeting on HSPD-12 in Washington.

Under HSPD-12, agencies must have the back-end infrastructure to begin issuing interoperable identification cards in place by Oct. 27. The cards must adhere to the Federal Information Processing Standard 201, Personal Identity Verification I and II.

Before agencies can start purchasing these kinds of products and services, however, vendors must get them approved by both the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is determining whether the products and services are FIPS-201 compliant, and GSA, which tests whether they are interoperable.

Initially, GSA hoped to make approved products and services available by the end of May. But Giles said the agency is offering vendors a chance to get their products and services into the queue earlier'before the end of March'giving agencies a sneak peek at what might be on the market.

GSA plans to start periodically updating the Smart Card Web site next week with information for vendors on how the early-approval process, Giles said at the meeting. GSA in February detailed how vendors can submit their products for approval.

To entice vendors, Giles said there will be no fees to get on the early list, but she cautioned that the process will have kinks to work through.

'You're going to need to be flexible if you're going to come on board,' she said.

This list should help agencies meet the October deadline, said one participant at the meeting.

There has been widespread concernthat agencies may struggle to meet the upcoming deadline, so GSA's effort to 'grease the skids' is 'giving many agencies some hope,' the government official said.

Meanwhile, NIST officially published the latest updates to FIPS-201 earlier this week.

The most significant change in the revised document is that FIPS 201-1 specifically requires that a background check status indicator'called the National Agency Check with Inquiries'be included on the smart card.

Since the NACI check already was required for the card and the status would likely be included on the card by default, the specific requirement is really just a formality.

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