New Smart Card Alliance White Paper Gives Government Agencies Tools to Begin Implementing FIPS 201 Compatible PACS Systems

New Smart Card Alliance White Paper Gives Government Agencies Tools to Begin Implementing FIPS 201 Compatible PACS Systems

Princeton Junction, NJ, September 25, 2006–Next month, government agencies face the deadline to begin issuing a single smart card credential to all government employees and contractors for both physical and logical access. In order to aid organizations with the physical access control system (PACS) aspect of the implementation, the Smart Card Alliance Physical Access Council released a new white paper today, Considerations for the Migration of Existing Physical Access Control Systems to Achieve FIPS 201 Compatibility. Additional Smart Card Alliance educational resources that support FIPS 201 implementation will soon be announced.

This standard has far-reaching effects on federal agencies in providing specifications that govern the entire chain of trust of the identity system and in specifying a single smart card–the PIV card–to be used for both physical and logical access, as well as other applications as determined by the individual agencies.

“The FIPS 201 processes and PIV card are greatly beneficial for government agencies–improving security and enhancing convenience,” said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Alliance. “At the same time, migrating to a FIPS 201-compatible PACS is a significant undertaking. Smart Card Alliance members support the efforts of and are anxious to work with these federal agencies. This white paper focuses on key considerations and gives government agencies tools to develop the plan and approach to upgrading or replacing existing physical access control system equipment.”

The white paper is designed to assist government agencies with the first phases of PACS migration to provide support for the new PIV cards that are being issued. It focuses on the current security environment for physical access and, through a series of questions, makes recommendations for how agencies can migrate and upgrade their current PACS to align them with the requirements of HSPD-12 and FIPS 201. Some of the questions the white paper addresses include:

  • What happens when some employees have PIV cards and some do not?
  • How can the existing PACS accommodate the migration to FIPS 201 compatibility?
  • Can systems be upgraded or must new systems be acquired?
  • What security considerations are there?

“Smart cards and readers are just the tip of the iceberg in FIPS 201 deployments. Government agencies need to consider new enrollment and issuance systems, as well as PACS changes and integration with back-end authentication systems,” said Lars Suneborn, director, government programs, Hirsch Electronics and Smart Card Alliance Physical Access Council lead for the project. “The tools in this white paper help agencies to develop a solid foundation for their migration plans.”

The report was developed by the Smart Card Alliance Physical Access Council. Participants from 18 organizations were involved in the development of the report, including: Actcom Security Solutions, a Diebold Company; BearingPoint; Booz Allen Hamilton; CoreStreet; Fargo Electronics; HID Corporation; Hirsch Electronics; Honeywell; Identification Technology Partners; Integrated Engineering; LEGIC Identsystems; LENEL, a UTC Fire & Security Company; Northrop Grumman; Saflink; SCM Microsystems; U.S. Department of Defense/Defense Manpower Data Center; U.S. Department of State.

Considerations for the Migration of Existing Physical Access Control Systems to Achieve FIPS 201 Compatibility is available at no charge from the Smart Card Alliance web site at

About the Smart Card Alliance Physical Access Council

The Physical Access Council is one of several Smart Card Alliance Technology and Industry Councils, focused groups within the overall structure of the Alliance. These councils have been created to foster increased industry collaboration within a specified industry or market segment and produce tangible results, speeding smart card adoption and industry growth.

The Physical Access Council is focused on accelerating the widespread acceptance, usage, and application of smart card technology for physical access control. The group brings together, in an open forum, leading users and technologists from both the public and private sectors and works on activities that are important to the physical access industry and that will address key issues that end user organizations have in deploying new physical access system technology.

The Physical Access Council is managed by a combined government/industry steering committee. It includes participants from across the smart card and physical access control system industry, including end users; smart card chip, card, software and reader vendors; physical access control systems vendors; and integration service providers. Physical Access Council participation is open to any Smart Card Alliance member who wishes to contribute to the Council projects.

About the Smart Card Alliance

The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart card technology. Through specific projects such as education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums, the Alliance keeps its members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought. The Alliance is the single industry voice for smart cards, leading industry discussion on the impact and value of smart cards in the U.S. and Latin America. For more information please visit