New Identity Card More Secure Than Earlier Versions

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2006 - New identification cards now being issued to some Defense Department employees will help standardize federal work force identification and enhance security, a senior DoD official said here today.

The new common access card is part of departmental transformation efforts that harness common business practices to make the organization more efficient, David S.C. Chu, the undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.

"A key element of this new card is it is a more secure document" than its predecessor, Chu noted.

The new card, he said, accomplishes three main objectives:
It makes the identification process more efficient;
It helps prevent identity theft or fraud; and
It better protects personal information, thus enhancing individual privacy.

The department began issuing the new ID cards Oct. 27. They will be provided to employees over the next three years as the old cards reach their expiration dates.

The new card looks similar to the old one, but it features several enhancements, said Mary Dixon, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center in Arlington, Va. For example, the new CAC contains two fingerprints and a digital photograph, she noted.

Additionally, "we're going to check to make sure you've had your background checks before we issue the card," Dixon said. "That is something we have not done in the past, but we will be doing this now."

President Bush directed that a single ID card be developed that's interoperable across all federal agencies, Chu said. The Defense Department, he noted, has had CACs for some years now.

"So, we're using that foundation as our stepping stone to reach the president's goal," Chu said.

Using one common ID card throughout the federal government "builds trust across agencies, because there is then just one credential," Chu said.

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