Barrett succeeds Moss as passport technology boss

More 'passport-lite' technology issues loom

A key technology leadership job changed hands as the State Department tapped Ann Barrett to be acting deputy assistant secretary of State for passport services. Barrett succeeds Frank Moss, who held the position on a permanent basis, a department spokeswoman said.

Moss retired as of Friday, March 2, according to the spokeswoman.

Barrett had worked as Moss' deputy, the spokeswoman said.

She now will oversee the implementation of large, controversial programs related to passport and passport card technology.

Moss and Barrett worked together on contentious technology and policy issues html related to the rollout of State's new generation of electronic passports and the development of the less-expensive 'passport lite' identification card for U.S. citizens returning home from other countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Barrett faces a series of consequences, repercussions and pending decisions related to the continuing overhaul of passport technology.

For example, a notice of proposed rulemaking issued by the Homeland Security Department last week concerning the REAL ID secure driver's license program could affect the passport card technology process.

According to the draft regulation, several border states have inquired about the possible use of REAL ID cards as proof of citizenship for purposes of crossing the land borders.

That request flows partly from an overlap between the characteristics of REAL ID cards and passport cards: Both of them require U.S. citizens to provide documentary evidence of citizenship. Neither of the card programs has reached their production stage. According to current laws, regulations and plans, the federal government will begin issuing the passport cards long before state agencies begin issuing next-generation driver's licenses.

Moss and other State officials previously have emphasized some key differences between the REAL ID cards and the passport cards. For example, noncitizens with various types of legal resident or visa status would be eligible for REAL ID driver's licenses or identity cards.

Moreover, state driver's license agencies would use policies and technologies, including various federal databases, to verify citizenship for the purposes of REAL ID cards that vary from the methods that State would use to verify the citizenship of passport cardholders.

From a technology angle, as the notice of proposed rulemaking notes, State expects to issue passport cards that will include integrated circuits to store encrypted biographic and biometric information. Under DHS plans, the REAL ID cards would use two-dimensional bar codes, not encrypted, to store a much more limited chunk of identifying data on the outside of the credentials.

Moss and other State officials also have noted that the Constitution assigns the responsibility for control of citizenship issues to the federal State Department rather than any state government agencies, which could be a further barrier to using REAL ID cards as passport cards.

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