Slick Salesman Sells DC Schools New Student ID Cards (Real ID!)

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Thu, 07/17/2008 - 11:20am.


The District is rolling out an ambitious identification program this summer in what it calls a first-of-its-kind effort by a major U.S. city to unify services on one ID card.

With the One Card, library accounts, public school attendance, recreation-center use and other services will be tracked on a single piece of plastic.

Metro riders can have a SmarTrip chip implanted in the card.

"The eventual goal is that you'd need only one card across the entire District government," said Vivek Kundra, the city's chief technology officer.

Over the next three months, public libraries will begin issuing the One Card. In the fall, public school students and D.C. government employees will receive the cards as IDs. By 2010, the Department of Parks and Recreation, which has begun issuing the cards, will require the ID for using park facilities, Kundra said. Other services, including DC Healthcare Alliance, plan to use the card.

The card will be mandatory for D.C. students and government workers, but other residents can choose not to apply for the card.

More than 11,000 young workers in the summer jobs program have the ID cards, as do more than 8,000 patrons of the major recreation centers across the city, Kundra said.

Some residents question the card's usefulness, and D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5), chairman of the Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation, said he was not consulted about the program.

"I know we want to make an efficient system," Thomas said. "I think that in any issue of this magnitude, we need to all as a government work cooperatively. I'm very concerned that we haven't been working together on it."

Last week, Thomas sent a letter to Clark E. Ray, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, asking about privacy issues and cost. Thomas said he hoped to have some answers by today, but Ray said yesterday that he would respond next week.

Personal information will remain in a central database and will not be stored on the One Card, Kundra said. The privacy policy of the Office of the Central Technology Officer states that the database will contain the card user's contact information, gender and birth date, the last five digits of the person's Social Security number, and a list of agencies where the cardholder has an account.

"On the whole, it does not seem to be a program that raises immediate and glaring concerns," said Johnny Barnes, executive director of the ACLU National Capital Area.

Some details are being refined. Signs at community centers last week said the One Card was required to enter the facility. Several people at the Chevy Chase Community Center said facility users were asked to sign up for the One Card if they were planning to exercise or attend a meeting.

On Monday, Kundra said people attending meetings at the centers would not have to sign up for the card. Instead, patrons could gain access to centers with library cards.

The One Card is available at 17 recreation centers, and Kundra's office established a Web site with more information.

The new card would save money for the D.C. government, but Kundra could not offer specifics about those savings for agencies or the city. The expenses associated with the card include costs for printers, $3,000 to $5,000 each; scanners, $100; and cameras, $50.

The recreation department plans to spend about $66,000 on the program, Kundra said, though the amount of equipment needed is unresolved.

In the fall, Kundra said, District public school students who are in the summer jobs program will already have their One Card school IDs, saving the expense of new cards. Previous policy allowed each school to pick its own system if it determined an ID was necessary.

The IDs will be used to take attendance as well, he said, adding that the school system spends $800,000 a year tracking attendance. Although the initial investment in the card might be near that figure, eventually the system will save money, Kundra said.

Dan Tangherlini, city administrator and deputy mayor, said the card concept emerged after several agencies said they wanted new IDs, including the Department of Parks and Recreation and the library systems. Tangherlini's response: "Why not have a common platform?"

"You could be a person who has several different services from the District of Columbia walking around with seven different cards in your pocket," he said. "That kind of seems ridiculous."

Not all community center users are happy.

"Why should one need an ID to go into a public building with no security problems?" said Ted Gest, who uses the Chevy Chase Community Center every week. "I think that it's a very slick salesman who has sold the city this system. Because unless you put a scanner by every single door to the facility, people will get in by the side doors. People come in and out of those doors all the time."

For more information on the One Card, go to,a,1242,q,461163.asp .

 Michael Birnbaum - July 8, 2008 - source InformationLiberation

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Thu, 07/17/2008 - 11:20am.