Dáil Éireann - Volume 632 - 01 March, 2007
Written Answers. - Public Service Cards.
Mr. Coveney Mr. Coveney
Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the progress and development his Department has conducted into the new public service card which is provided for in the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7974/07]
Mr. Brennan Mr. Brennan
Mr. Brennan: My Department, together with the Department of Finance, is managing a programme of work to develop a Public Service Card framework. The programme of work is known as SAFE — Standard Authentication Framework Environment. The term “framework” is being used to emphasise that a single Public Service Card is not envisaged but rather a branded standard within which individual initiatives can operate.
My Department is developing Public Service Cards, based on the SAFE standards, which will replace the existing Social Welfare Card with a view to issuance commencing in 2007. The provisions in the Bill referred to by the Deputy provide the necessary statutory basis for this.
One of the objectives of SAFE is to facilitate convergence over time of existing cards and other tokens under a single branded scheme. The individual customer will benefit from a reduction in the number of tokens required and from enhanced control of the use of their data. Agencies can benefit from the streamlining of existing schemes and sharing of administrative costs.
In July 2005, the SAFE Interdepartmental Steering Group reported to the Government. The Government noted the work of the SAFE Programme up to that point, which included a set of standards around a Public Service Card, and approved continuation of the work. In November 2005, the Department invited proposals for the development of a functional specification for a Public Services card and subsequently awarded a contract.
The present position is that a draft functional specification for the public service card itself has  been drawn up and is being discussed with other Departments. It is planned to go to tender for card production in March with a view to card issuance towards the end of this year.
The first version of the card will be deployed for use among the 640,000 people eligible for Free Travel and will introduce a number of improvements, including an improved registration process along with new card technology, which will bring improved customer service and better security features, considerably reducing the potential for forgery and fraudulent use.
Question No. 82 answered with Question No. 26.
Dáil Éireann 632 Written Answers. Public Service Cards.