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Shorter wait times at Naval District Washington's (NDW) perimeter checkpoints are good news for everyone; Navy Commercial Access Control System (NCACS) has improved efficiency, particularly at the Washington Navy Yard's Pass and I.D. office.

While improving security is one benefit of NCACS, another tangible goal is to improve productivity at installations' Pass and I.D. offices. The system streamlines enrollment, inspection, approving credentials and, in "near real-time," electronically validating credentials.

"The contractors don't get held up at the gate; it is wonderful," said Daryl Colter, head of the Pass and I.D. office at the Washington Navy Yard.

This rapidity is key to some of the success enjoyed by NCACS. For participants and guards, since a simple and quick scan is what's required by the system, time that might have been previously wasted on repeatedly checking papers and license plates has been reduced significantly.

"Technology insertion such as NCACS allows us to leverage on technology to provide quicker access and save manpower manually checking on personnel who need access to the installation," said Brian Kelm, deputy commanding officer for Naval Support Activity Annapolis (NSA Annapolis). "It saves personnel costs and increases the efficiency of the operation."

In order to obtain installation access through NCACS a vender or contractor can visit any Pass and I.D. office and input required data into an NCACS kiosk. Once the information is entered into the system and the government office receiving the service verifies the request as legitimate, the contractor or vendor's company is billed for the background check. After all funds are received, a background check is conducted and, with a clear record, credentials are issued.

With these credentials in hand, contractors and vendors who require access but do not qualify for a Common Access Card (CAC) are able to quickly and safely access a base. Handheld scanners used at perimeter checkpoints are wirelessly connected to a database at the guardhouse, which then verifies the credentials as authentic and current.

"Traffic is improved; it's just a scan of the credential and a 'Go' or 'No Go' appears on the handheld screen," said Robert Russell, with NDW's Operations Department.

With over 2,000 employees enrolled in NCACS at the Washington Navy Yard alone, it is clear how the system can cut down on traffic. If these contractors do not use the system, they would be required to obtain a one-day pass each and every time they access the facility, increasing the workload on Pass and I.D. office workers and bypassing the background check.

"It has cut down on the numbers and it has made things run just a little bit smoother," said Colter.

NCACS has also streamlined the movement of vital information and records from all levels of command at installations throughout the region. The new system allows for printouts regarding the enrollment, background, and status of contractor companies and employees in the program, which then can be used to brief administration on base.

"Eight months ago, I couldn't tell you how many companies I had," said Colter. "Right now I've got 248, and [the commanding officer] is getting briefed… We have answers for our CO."

With any new system, however, there comes an adjustment and acclimation period. According to Colter, the occasional growing pains of getting used to NCACS have proved valuable to the implementation of the program at other facilities, such as Naval Support Facility Carderock.

Exercise Solid Curtain/Citadel Shield is slated to be underway next week. The primary focus of the exercise is on safety and preparedness, but systems like NCACS will enable the Navy to effectively pursue that goal while making a commute in the morning just a little bit shorter.