Defense seeks to expand ID cards for use at transit systems, ATMs

Electronic wallet feature could turn security badge into multipurpose card.

The Defense Department has launched an ambitious project to transform its electronic identification card into an electronic wallet that eventually could be used as a transit card, a debit card and an ATM card.

Bob Gilson, customer development branch chief at the Defense Manpower Data Center, who is spearheading the project, said the new type of card could go governmentwide. All federal agencies use roughly the same type of electronic ID badges, mandated by Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12, issued by President George W. Bush in June 2004.

Randy Vanderhoof , executive director of the Smart Card Alliance, an industry group, said the Pentagon's plans to add multiple functions to its ID card constitute the largest smart card project in the world in scale and scope.

The Common Access Card, which Defense first issued in 2000, includes embedded chips that provide access to military systems and networks when plugged into a computer. It also has a contactless feature that provides building access when waved over gate readers installed at facilities such as the Pentagon. That feature relies on an international standard, ISO 14443.

Transit systems worldwide, including the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, use the same contactless technology in electronic smart cards to collect fares, although until recently many transit operators used proprietary systems and nonstandard technology.

The Washington Metro system and the New York Metropolitan Transit Agency have adopted the international contactless standard. Gilson said transit operators in Chicago and Pennsylvania are moving to adopt the standard.

Defense also wants to use a global standard for credit and debit payment cards to add debit card functions to the Common Access Card, Gilson said. He said a chip-based application would have to be added to the CAC to support the debit card application. It would have to comply with the security requirements of Federal Information Processing Standard 140-3, released in draft form by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in August.

Neville Pattinson, vice president for government affairs at Gemalto Inc., Defense's CAC vendor for the past decade, said the ability to support multiple functions beyond identification was built into the card from the start. He said support for transit payments is the next logical step for the card, which is currently issued to more than 3 million military personnel and contractors.

Federal employees receive a monthly transit benefit. Gilson said Defense has an ongoing pilot program with the Utah Transit Authority in Salt Lake to test the use of CACs to pay fares.

In Washington, 170,00 federal transit riders have their monthly benefit loaded onto Metro SmarTrip cards. Peter Benjamin, chairman of the WMATA Board, said Metro already has installed ISO 14443 readers. Providing support for the CAC or other federal cards would require only a software change.

Benjamin said the software could be used to add the transit benefit to the CAC as riders go through a gate, rather than requiring them to physically add the benefit on a monthly basis to their SmarTrip cards.

Adding multiple functions to the CAC will reduce the number of cards Defense employees have to carry. "Why carry five cards when one can do the job?" Benjamin said.

As transit systems worldwide adopt the ISO 14443 standard, Gilson predicted "it will be possible one day soon to ride RATP [Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens] in Paris; the Underground in London; and the U.S. systems in Chicago, Washington,

Philadelphia and New York all using the same card -- and it could be a CAC

card with the contactless payment application."

Gilson said Defense still has numerous steps to complete before it can turn the Common Access Card into an e-wallet, but predicted it would be fielded by the middle of 2013.