Stamp of Approval

CRI secures USDA with PACS


CRI, McLean, Va., is a different kind of systems integrator, one that’s becoming increasingly commonplace in the security landscape. The company’s grounded on the IT and logical side of the business, but their experience in satisfying even the most complex integration and convergence projects found them migrating naturally to the physical security space. 
 
CRI was approached by an existing customer, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Office of Security Services (OSS), soon after they had completed a broad program review and market survey in search of new access control solutions to meet government compliance and regulations.  USDA is a large organization comprised of 29 different agencies and offices, 25,000 facilities nationwide, and more than 98,000 federal employees.

USDA OSS is responsible for providing security policies for the entire Department. Along with the promulgation of policy, OSS provides direction and coordination for physical security initiatives across the many USDA agencies and offices. OSS must meet all requirements of Homeland Security Presidential Directives such as HSPD-7 Critical Infrastructure Identification, Prioritization, and Protection; HSPD–9, Defense of United States Agriculture and Food; HSPD-12 Policy for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors; and HSPD–20, National Continuity Policy.

Compliant ePACS
CRI had built a small-scale IT enterprise system for one of the larger agencies within USDA. This earlier effort had some of the same attributes USDA was seeking to support their Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) Program including compliant enterprise Physical Access Control System (ePACS) to centrally manage all PACS within USDA saving millions of dollars by eliminating redundant costs and providing one standard for this security countermeasure.  

“We were working with one office on related efforts within the security field and providing full IT system development services for another USDA agency that they were familiar with,” said Eric Schneider, vice president and chief operating officer at CRI. “On the hardware side we have been upgrading many of their physical access control systems to provide support for agency-issued smart cards. During this transition we were asked to migrate many site-specific solutions to enterprise-wide solutions. To support this requirement, USDA and other agencies such as Health and Human Services asked us to assist them in installing a more secure centrally located Physical Access Control System (PACS) that provides a higher return on investment,” he said. 

As a trusted provider to the federal government, CRI provides consultative services for its customers as they relate to numerous security related federal guidelines and policies, according to Victoria Johnson, president and chief executive officer. Johnson said CRI has been involved in working groups and interagency committees since the inception of HSPD-12.
“The project itself directly correlates to CRI’s ability to provide services related to executive orders and federal guidelines as well as our core capability in providing design, installation and operation services for physical access control systems,” Johnson added.

For years the Physical Security Division (PSD) in the OSS attempted to manage, control and write one standard for PACS throughout the USDA. However, due to the many disparate systems in the USDA and the lack of funding, this could never be accomplished, according to Richard Holman, Chief, USDA’s Physical Security Division.

“Since the inception of HSPD-12 and its mandate to rapidly authenticate an Identification Card (USDA ID card called LincPass–named after Abraham Lincoln who founded the USDA) electronically; and issue to only providers whose reliability has been established by an official accreditation process, PSD was now given the authority to accomplish this long time security goal,” said Holman. “With CRI’s expertise and willingness to transfer their corporate knowledge, the USDA has developed an enterprise system that will abide by two of the tenants of HSPD-12, which ultimately increase security in our facilities and save thousands of dollars in redundant costs spent each year.”

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