SYDNEY – One of Australia’s biggest federal departments will become the first to give smartcards to employees for computer and building security.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), which has 6,000 employees, announced last week it will be making the move by the end of October.

DEEWR has taken a leading role in the development of a whole-of-government staff identification Framework, alongside other agencies, including Centrelink, which will also release a new staff card this year.

Federal government CIO Ann Steward said the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has worked closely with agencies to develop a best practice Framework for staff identification cards.

The Framework is titled IMAGE (Identity Management for Australian Government Employees) and a revised version is currently with agencies for consultation.

DWWER CIO Glenn Archer said the new DEEWR staff smartcard complies with this draft. “This is the second generation of smartcards, following five years’ of successful operation of the first generation cards,” Archer said.

“This new generation of cards offers an improvement in security, due to two-factor authentication to deliver a secure access to classified and unclassified information.

“Security features of the cards will make them useful for identifying DEEWR staff to each other, to other staff, other agencies, and the public.”

The cards will be used for photographic identification, building access and secure logon to the department’s computers.

This is not the first attempt by the government to bring in smartcards. Last year the Conservative administration bungled $1.1 billion in an Access Card project. That project was dumped by the current Labor government following the federal election in November 2007.

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