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Some D.C. Residents Criticize New Cards to Access Services

Residents can use the DC One Card at libraries and recreational centers. The cards are also set to become students' school ID this fall.
Residents can use the DC One Card at libraries and recreational centers. The cards are also set to become students' school ID this fall.
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By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 20, 2009

They are supposed to make your wallet a bit thinner and give you everything you need to check out a book at the library or visit a recreational center or a public building.

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But as the District government starts rolling out the highly touted DC One Cards, some residents are rebelling against the initiative to put their identity on one piece of plastic.

Community e-mail lists across the city have been hit with a wave of complaints about the card. Residents are raising questions about whether the new plastic cards are just another example of a government initiative that hasn't been well thought out.

"My basic question is: What does this card do that your driver's license doesn't do?" asked Ted Gest of Chevy Chase. "Would someone in D.C. please explain why this is necessary?"

The furor over the cards became especially heated this week in Ward 3 after some residents said they were told they needed to obtain one to gain access to the new Wilson Aquatic Center.

Department of Parks and Recreation officials say they are urging residents to obtain a DC One Card to gain entry to the pool. But residents will still be admitted at no charge if they show a valid driver's license instead.

After receiving numerous complaints about the card, D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) sent a letter Monday to City Administrator Neil O. Albert asking for answers.

"Residents have raised concerns that the DC One Card is an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy," Cheh wrote.

City leaders say the idea behind the cards is simple: to track who is using facilities while making it easier for residents to access services.

The cards, which have been distributed to thousands of D.C. government summer interns, can be used for library borrowing privileges and to gain access to recreational centers.

Students are supposed to get cards this fall. The cards will become the school ID.

"Our research indicates that consolidating identification cards not only saves taxpayer dollars and resources but also increases convenience and ease of access to services for residents," Ayanna L. Smith, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Chief Technology Officer, said in a statement Tuesday evening.


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