GPO now offering HSPD-12 services

Tuesday - 11/9/2010, 6:49pm EST

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The Government Printing Office is getting into the fray to provide Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 products and services.

After more than four years of mulling its option, GPO on Tuesday announced it will provide graphical personalization services of these secure identification cards required for all full-time government employees and contractors.

GPO employees in the agency's Secure Credential Center will print and personalize the cards with the cardholder's picture and biographical data, the agency states in a release. The General Services Administration approved GPO's products and services so now they are part of the HSPD-12 Approved Products List GSA runs.

GSA lists only one other vendor providing these services, Oberthur Card Systems. Several vendors also provide electronic personalization services.

"GPO's expertise and reputation for producing the most secure credentials in the federal government has led to this achievement," said Steve LeBlanc, GPO's managing director for security and intelligent documents. "GPO's employees have been producing the passport for more than 80 years and that experience has lead to federal agencies turning to GPO to design, print, personalize and manufacture their secure credentials."

In 2006, GPO considered providing secure ID cards for small agencies as part of a shared services offering.

In October 2007, Benjamin Brink, assistant public printer for security and intelligent documents, testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that they hoped to provide cards by the fall 2008.

GPO's decision to start offering services didn't sit well with some in industry.

"The real question is whether they will behave and compete in the same way private sector companies have to compete because so far their commercial activities indicate they haven't been competing for RFPs, but have gotten contracts," said an industry source, who requested anonymity because they didn't get permission to talk from their company.

"Some will say this is an issue of national security, but what national security requirements are needed to allow private sector organizations to compete? What are the criteria? Every single contract until now has been through the process of open procurement," the source said.

It's a question of whether GPO's entrance into this HSPD-12 space is part of a nationalization of smart card services, and whether that it is fair for GPO to compete with the private companies offering similar type services, the source said.

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