Thursday, July 3, 2008

New ID Card Serves Students, Rec Centers, Libraries in D.C.


Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 27, 2008; Page B01

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.