GAO says federal agencies lack guidance on identity credentialing

Published 14 March 2006

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is concerned that federal agencies lack sufficient guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on how to conduct background checks on foreign nationals before issuing them computer-readable identity credentials. Beginning 27 October 2006, agencies must issue smart cards to federal employees and contractors. The GAO auditors warn in a new report that the federal government might miss the October deadline. The GAO report also questions whether the federal government can accomplish the major objective of the secure identity credentialing program: A standard credential which authorized employees can use to access federal facilities and federal information systems.

OMB has agreed to let some agencies meet the deadline by implementing transitional smart card systems which do not fully meet the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 201. OMB has not set a deadline for agencies using transitional systems to adopt the FIPS 201 standard, but insists that there is nothing “incomplete” about the guidance it has issued to these and other agencies.

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