VARs Needed To Help Push ID Legislation

Federal legislation sets the stage to improve identification management by federal agencies, but only if the private sector can actually make it happen, said Tom Davis, congressman (R-Va.) and chair of the House Government Reform Committee.

"The problem is we have a digital economy, but an analog government," Davis said during a morning keynote at an identity management conference hosted by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA). "You think of government and you think of [incidents like Hurricane Katrina and] FEMA. There's a disconnect."

Despite quite a bit of pushback in the Senate, Davis said, legislation is taking shape that will improve identification management and subsequently national security. Title II of the Real ID Act, which is scheduled to take effect in May 2008, would prohibit federal agencies from accepting driver's licenses and identification cards issued by states unless they meet a minimum set of federal ID requirements--such as the inclusion of certain data, the ability of the cards to be machine readable and the use of anti-fraud technology. "This is an ID security issue, not a license to drive issue," Davis said. "[State government] don't have to comply, but IDs can't be used for federal purposes [if they don't]."

In addition to the Real ID Act, the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) requires the development of a government standard for secure and reliable identification; that led to FIPS 201, a standard for personal identity verification (PIV) of federal employees and contractors.

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Such legislation helps set the ball in motion and progress has been made, but government is not equipped to make any such mandates a reality alone. Agencies require the products, services and expertise of VARs to develop solutions that accomplish the stated objectives of those on the Hill. "Congress and government as a whole are behind on the technology curve," Davis said. "You're [contractors] the ones with the answers."