DOD pushes back deadline for smart-card rollout

SSN Staff  - 
Thursday, November 6, 2003

November 6, 2003

WASHINGTON - Faced with the daunting task of issuing common access cards for its more than four million employees, the U.S. Department of Defense has extended its deadline for distribution by six months.

Initially, the DOD planned to have the cards distributed to all active-duty, civilian and contract workers and reservists by mid-October, but at present, there are still some 500,000 cards left to be distributed.

According to Mike Butler, chief of smart-card programs for the department’s Access Card Program Office, the DOD has been issuing between 10,000 and 14,000 cards a week. The delay came about because the department misjudged the time it would take to implement the program.

Because there are varying rules and policies that must be encoded on the cards, the encoding process takes about five minutes per card.

Since its inception in 2001, about 3.7 million cards have been issued, according to the Access Card Program Office.

Once the rollout is complete, the project will not end, Butler said. After the new April deadline, the Access Card Program Office plans to begin implementing the next wave of smart cards, which will include digital images and biometric identifiers.