Smart cards--plastic devices about the size of a credit card--use integrated circuit chips to store and process data, much like a computer. Among other uses, these devices can provide security for physical assets and information by helping to verify the identity of people accessing buildings and computer systems. They can also support functions such as tracking immunization records or storing cash value for electronic purchases. Government adoption of smart card technology is being facilitated by the General Services Administration (GSA), which has implemented a governmentwide Smart Card Access Common ID contract, which federal agencies can use to procure smart card products and services. GAO was asked to update information that it reported in January 2003 on the progress made by the federal government in promoting smart card technology. Specific objectives were to (1) determine the current status of smart card projects identified in GAO's last review, (2) identify and determine the status of projects initiated since the last review, and (3) identify integrated agencywide smart card projects currently under way. To accomplish these objectives, GAO surveyed the 24 major federal agencies. In commenting on a draft of this report, officials from GSA and the Office of Management and Budget generally agreed with its content.
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