Smart Card Talk : July 2011 : Member Profile

This month Smart Card Talk spoke with John Mears, director of Biometric Solutions at Lockheed Martin. In this role, he is responsible for program performance, strategy, and technology plans for biometric identification and verification applications across major market segments including Homeland Security and Justice.

Identity management programs currently within Mr. Mears’ portfolio include the TSA Transportation Worker’s Identification Credential (TWIC) program and the FBI’s Card Scanning Service IV (CSS IV) program. Mr. Mears is also responsible for the RapI.D.™ rapid DNA identification program, a collaboration with ZyGEM Corp. Ltd’s Microlab unit.

Mr. Mears began his career with the IBM Corporation in Gaithersburg, Md. Among other assignments, he was lead satellite tracking station engineer for the U.S. Global Positioning System. In addition, he spent two years on assignment in the U.K. establishing commercial product development activities within the Hursley Lab in Hampshire.

Mr. Mears holds both Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida, and he has more than 30 years of experience in advanced technology solutions, market development, and product management.

1. What are Lockheed Martin’s main business profile and offerings?

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

Lockheed Martin is the largest provider of IT services, systems integration, and training to the U.S. government. This includes a diverse portfolio of proven, large-scale biometrics and identity management programs such as the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) program; the TSA Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC); and RapI.D.TM, a portable DNA analysis device that is being collaboratively developed by Lockheed Martin and ZyGEM Corp. Ltd’s Microlab unit.

Lockheed Martin’s operating units are organized into four broad business areas.

  • Information Systems & Global Solutions (IS&GS), which includes identity management programs, federal services, and government and commercial IT solutions.

  • Aeronautics, which includes tactical aircraft, airlift, and aeronautical research and development lines of business.

  • Electronic Systems, which includes missiles and fire control, naval systems, platform integration, simulation and training and energy programs.

  • Space Systems, which includes space launch, commercial satellites, government satellites, and strategic missiles.

Lockheed Martin has 572 facilities in 500 cities and 46 states throughout the U.S. With a strong international presence, the Corporation has business locations in 75 nations and territories.

Named by Business Week as one of the “Best Places to Launch a Career,” Lockheed Martin is consistently recognized for its commitment to its employees. The Corporation was also recognized by Frost & Sullivan as the 2011 North American Biometric Operations & Integrations Company of the Year.

2. What role does smart card technology play in supporting your business?

Smart card technology plays a key role in several identity management initiatives that Lockheed Martin supports. For example, Lockheed Martin serves as the lead contractor on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program, which provides biometrically encoded credentials to vetted maritime workers who require routine, unescorted access to secure areas at our nation’s ports. TWIC was established by Congress through the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and is administered by TSA and U.S. Coast Guard. Lockheed Martin has helped the TSA enroll more than 1.9 million maritime workers in the TWIC program to date.

Lockheed Martin is also employing smart card technology for its HSPD-12 compliant employee badging program called Assured Identity. This program provides employees with a credential to be used for authentication in physical access control for all Lockheed Martin facilities, as well as logical access control for computer and VPN access.

3. What trends do you see developing in the market that you hope to capitalize on?

We see the Department of Homeland Security concept of “universal enrollment” as an opportunity to efficiently deliver the promise of smart card technology to multiple constituencies with less cost and overhead–both for the U.S. federal government as well as for those individuals requiring credentials, endorsements or clearances.

A broader trend we see is an increased use of smart cards to facilitate cyber security, and the promise of smart cards and/or biometrics to combat fraud in government programs and private industry offerings.

4. What obstacles to growth do you see that must be overcome to capitalize on these opportunities?

Broadly speaking, there is the budget factor. The economy has put a significant strain on dollars available to implement smart card programs across both the federal government and private industry. Those establishing smart card programs must consider the required investments in infrastructure (e.g., smart card readers) as well as resources for management and implementation of the program. Affordability and effectiveness are absolutely critical–be it for a smart card program or any other new initiative.

Smart cards have only really come into widespread use within the U.S. in the last few years. Certainly the credentialing community will need to work through some of the misinformation about uses and reliability of smart cards in various operational situations. Perhaps even greater are the legal precedents, policy changes, and public perception impediments associated with smart cards and personal privacy, especially when biometrics are involved.

In addition, questions have been raised about the durability of smart cards, particularly in certain applications and in certain modes of operation (contactless vs. contact). Data about card durability vs. application hasn’t been widely collected or shared within the industry, and the manufacturers of the cards rightfully say they have developed and tested against the proper standards. What will the data say over time? Are the standards the cards meet adequate to the observed use cases?

5. What do you see are the key factors driving smart card technology in government and commercial markets in the U.S.?

Key factors driving smart card technologies include: the desire for higher levels of identity assurance as physical and logical threats evolve and increase; a desire for higher and broader levels of interoperability; and a desire to reduce the amount of identity fraud in both government benefits programs and commercial applications.

6. How do you see your involvement in the Alliance and the industry councils helping your company?

The Alliance offers a diverse mix of industry and government perspectives. This is a place where truly productive conversations are happening on topics ranging from policy, standards and case studies to smart card education and advocacy efforts. Through the Alliance, we’re helping each other understand strategic trends, current best practices and tactical opportunities in a way that benefits us all.

Member point of contact

John Mears,