Belvoir testing new Smartcard Program for Army Spouses, Retirees

By Travis Edwards, Fort Belvoir Public Affairs OfficeJuly 21, 2011

Fort Belvoir is one of several military installations selected to run a pilot program designed to provide smartcards, or common access card-enabled identification, to Army spouses and retirees.

“The program will evaluate the spouse and retiree community’s experience with using smartcard identity authentication as an alternative to username and password login to several Army and Defense Department Websites,” said Vinson Bullard, Belvoir’s identification card section supervisor.

The program began Monday and concludes July 29, according to Bullard, who just returned from an Army-wide planning meeting about the smartcard program.

“We are actually the pre-pilot program for the Army,” said Bullard, “which is exciting for us. We were selected based on the large number of beneficiaries in our area that fit the basic criteria for the new program.”

The program’s target audience are the retirees and spouses who do not currently have a Common Access Card by another means.

“Some spouses and retirees have CAC-enabled identification through their employment as Defense Department employees, contractors, or membership in the Army Reserve or National Guard,” Bullard explained.

The pilot will analyze the card and reader distribution process, user experience with card reader installation and the overall acceptance of using the card as a replacement for username and password login, according to Amanda Rowell, a verifying official in the ID card section and Directorate of Human Resources employee.

Smartcards will not elevate participants’ access level. They will have access to the same information they’ve sought in the past, but will access it in a new way.

The pilot is part of a larger initiative to secure sensitive data on Army private web servers and to provide the spouse and retiree community with more secure access to Army online resources and personally identifiable information.

Belvoir will execute a small-scale, proof of concept through July 29, with volunteers selected by the Army CIO/G-6 to test processes and to ensure everything runs smoothly when the pilot expands to five installations.

Beginning in September, the smartcard pilot will expand to Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Hood, Texas; and Fort Jackson, S.C. Selected participants will be asked to complete three surveys during the pilot to capture their experiences installing the reader and using the smartcard. AKO and the other pilot-hosting portals will provide smartcard utilization metrics, too. CIO/G6 will compile results and provide pilot findings in March to Army senior leadership, and to pilot participants.

Volunteers are being solicited through targeted messaging and announcements on AKO and the My Army Benefits homepage; the Army CIO/G-6 will select qualified volunteers for the pilot program. Detailed information about the pilot, participation requirements and the registration process is available at the Smartcard Pilot support portal on AKO.

Editor’s note: For more visit the AKO Portal at