RapidGate, a system for electronically verifying military, civilian and contractor credentials, is due for an expansive update in the upcoming months.
In an effort to increase security at Naval District Washington's (NDW) installations entry control points (ECPs), RapidGate, which is inherently connected to the earlier adopted Navy Commercial Access Control System (NCACS), is set to expand to include not only scanning the credentials issued through NCACS, but also those of military service members and their families and DoD civilians.
NCACS currently has two parts, the vetting process (background check) and then ID verification each time an NCACS contractor comes onto an installation.
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. RapidGate handheld scanners used at perimeter checkpoints are wirelessly connected to a database at the guardhouse, which then verifies the credentials as authentic and current.
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 command on base.
"Twelve months ago, I couldn’t tell you how many companies I had," said Daryl Colter, non-guard services site manager for N3-Security. "Right now I've got 248, and [the commanding officer] is getting briefed… We have answers for our CO."
As it stands now, the system only is used to verify the credentials of contractors whose companies, not being eligible for a CAC card, have participated in the NCACS program of vetting and background checks. However, soon those RapidGate handheld scanners used to verify NCACS issued credentials will also be capable of doing much more.
"Hopefully within the next three months, we will be able to rollout with the new software that is applied to the handheld, for the capability to read CAC cards, military and dependent cards," said Colter. "It is no extra work for any visitors, contractor holder and any military [member]."
This is expected to increase security at the ECPs as not only will individuals' IDs be visually checked, but they will be electronically verified against a database to ensure their authenticity. The idea here, according to Colter, is that adding that software component to the visual component allows for "backup" for the human eye and physical feel of the credential, which can be counterfeited. Electronics, however, are a tougher nut to crack.
With any new system, however, there comes an adjustment and acclimation period. According to Colter, as the occasional growing pains of getting used to NCACS/RapidGate have proved valuable to the implementation of the program at other facilities, such as Naval Support Facility Carderock, it is believed that the implementation of scanning of all credentials at the Washington Navy Yard will provide valuable input to be used in the rollout of the system at other Navy facilities.
"We have six fence-lines underneath [NDW]," said Colter "If there's a piece that isn't working, we can fix it before it gets out to the other installations."
In any case, some useful changes are coming to the various NDW installations, and RapidGate is slated to make sure that the right people are in the right place.