Pentagon to issue new building access cards that require fingerprint and iris images

July 20, 2015 - 

The Pentagon is issuing new building access cards for non-Common Access Card users and require images of the iris and fingerprints be taken of each applicant, according to a report by Military Times.

The aim is to group individuals who go to the Pentagon into the new Pentagon Facilities Alternative Credential, or PFAC, or CAC card categories, said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Tom Crosson.

The agency is planning on having all the badges replaced with the new access card by Labor Day.

“This was mainly done for efficiency purposes so people don’t have to carry around multiple cards,” Crosson said, adding that CAC card holders will no longer be required to carry another building access card.

Bearing a similar aesthetic to the Global Entry card, the PFAC card is issued through an application process under U.S. Customs and Border Protection to al frequent travelers seeking an expedited clearance.

Crosson said that individuals can receive a PFAC card by undergoing an iris and fingerprint scan during the application process.

The Pentagon has slowly been adopting biometric technology to authenticate employee identity, with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency launching a pilot for the system in 2012 at the Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia.

In 2014, Department of Defense building pass holders began transitioning their credentials into the PFPA’s Privilege Management Program to adhere to a government-wide identification standard for federal employees and contractors. At the time, many CAC users began conducting their biometric scans, said Crosson.

The issuing/renewal process of Common Access Cards takes approximately 15 minutes, while the PFAC itself only taking a few minutes to collect the information,

The data is then sent to the Government Printing Office, and employees are sent their PFAC cards a few days later.

Applicants’ data is stored in a database managed by the Pentagon Force Protection Agency for official use only, and will not be sent to the Office of Personnel Management, which recently experienced a massive breach that comprised that data of 21.5 million Americans.

The current swipe badges will also be phased out with the introduction of the new badges, which will feature internal technology that activates when the card holder approaches an access point reader near the Pentagon’s entrance.

PFAC users will simply position the card above the readers, which are situated on the gates or turnstiles, for a few seconds.

Members of the media are currently only able to access the Pentagon if they regularly visit the building (four to eight times a month), but it is unclear if these same conditions will apply for the PFAC card, Crosson said.

Additionally, Crosson said the Pentagon will continue to issue temporary passes for those individuals visiting the building for a short time.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.