Government agencies gear up for HSPD 12

Vendor mosh pit forms around presidential directive for common ID

Most major IT projects of any size are slow moving beasts: amorphous blobs of specs and builds and regression tests slouching toward completion, someday far in the future.

That’s why sometimes the best thing you can do as a project manager is just grab the calendar, flip through a few pages, and jam a thumbtack into the most promising Friday declaring, “This is the day.”

That’s, more or less, the approach that the Department of Homeland Security took back in 2004 when President Bush signed HSPD (Homeland Security Presidential Directive) 12, an order that requires a standard and secure form of identification for federal employees and contractors.

Like any deadline, HSPD 12 is finally coming due. As of this Friday, Oct. 27, government agencies have to begin issuing new PIV (personal identity verification)-2 cards to employees.

Not surprisingly, strong authentication vendors are jumping on board.

Typical of them is Cryptolex, a Virginia startup that is funded, in part, by the U.S. Navy and sells the “Mobio,” a handheld thumbprint scanner and onetime password generator — Cryptolex calls it a “biocode” — that can be integrated with door access card readers, as well as VPNs and LDAP servers for logical access, according to Clovis Najm, Cryptolex’s CEO and founder.

ActiveIdentity, another strong authentication vendor, is also planning to announce government adoption of its technology for HSPD 12.

Within the government, 28 agencies have signed up for the General Services Administration’s Shared-Services program, run by Bearing Point, that will allow agencies in the same geographic area to share HSPD-12 implementation services, with oversight by the General Services Administration.

Initially, Shared Services will launch on Friday in four cities: Atlanta, New York, Seattle, and Washington. The GSA plans to roll it out to 450 enrollment stations across the United States, covering 80 percent of all federal workers.