By NSA Bethesda Public Affairs
Of all the buildings at Naval Support Activity Bethesda, the smallest and likely most visited by newcomers to the installation is the Pass and ID office located at Gate 1 (North Gate).
Bianca Burgos, NSA Bethesda’s access control officer, manages a team of eight, including herself, who process paper passes, background checks, and DBIDS (Defense Biometric Identification System) identification cards.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response, the work at Pass and ID has never stopped. They are open 5:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, helping new employees, contractors, and other visitors get valid access to the installation.
What has changed is the waiting area. As part of safe COVID-19 practices and precautions, all employees have glass in front of them and they all wear masks. Space inside has been limited as well.
“We allow four visitors in at a time to enforce social distancing,” Burgos says, “and we also visitors to wear masks.”
The work they do may seem routine; from a security perspective, it’s an important part of NSA Bethesda’s mission.
“We handle all base access credentialing,” Burgos says, “to include temporary to long term passes, vehicle registration, patients and patient visitors that are admitted into Walter Reed Bethesda, and DBIDS passes and cards. We also make sure everyone requesting access to NSA Bethesda has a valid ‘nature of visit’ as well as a background check to ensure the safety of the base populous.”
For some, accessing the installation may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
With patience and planning, explains Burgos, visitors (and those advising them) can help reduce some of the impact from the challenges of helping everyone who needs access.
First, personnel with existing access can cut down on the number of people who need paper passes by making sure they always have their credentials.
“We get a lot of people who have forgotten their credentials and need temporary passes which adds more customers and increases wait times,” she says.
She recommends all personnel ensure they have their credentials with them before they leave the installation each day (e.g., checking CAC readers) and before leaving the house to head to work.
Second, Burgos says knowing the busiest times of day can help.
“We’re busiest from 5:30 a.m. to about midday. For long term DBIDS access, we recommend coming in when things are quieter,” she says.
It’s also important to note the office is closed on weekends and federal holidays.
Third, parking is limited. If first-time visitors can plan for that by carpooling, taking Metro, or choosing to use an alternative means for travel, they can help reduce the number of cars waiting to park.
Fourth, plan for possible delays. During busy times, Burgos says a DBIDS application can take upwards of 30 minutes.
Fifth and final, anyone needing new access should get in contact with their sponsor or employer in advance if possible to get instructions so they can request access forms ahead of time and be pre-vetted (background check).
If these tips are followed, she says, the wait times at Pass and ID can eventually be reduced.