All US federal government agencies are required to begin issuing new secure identity cards to employees and contractors on Friday under a White House directive that is expected to cost more than $1 billion, the Associated Press reports.
Analysts and government insiders are skeptical that IDs for a total of more than 10 million federal workers and contractors can be issued within two years as required by the directive.
The move from card readers and scanners from PINs and passwords is seen by government agencies as a major cultural and operational change. Some observers and market analysts believe the ultimate cost of the program easily could surpass $2 billion.
The Interior Department awarded a contract for the project to IBM Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp., which is available governmentwide for the ID program.
Other approved service providers include Northrop Grumman Corp., Accenture Ltd., General Dynamics Corp., Bearingpoint Inc., and Electronic Data Systems Corp., while SI International Inc., Unisys Corp., Verisign Inc., L-1 Identity Solutions Inc., and Honeywell International Inc. also offer products that have been approved for procurement.
Information contained on the new security badges include a person’s photo and fingerprints. While privacy objections were voiced by some federal employees, the looming deadline overrode those concerns and others.