Feds encourage tech companies to create ID management 'ecosystem'

White House and other federal officials are actively urging private technology companies to create an ecosystem of identity management solutions that are interoperable, according to Howard Schmidt, White House cybersecurity coordinator.

Once the ecosystem is in place, federal agencies will utilize the solutions for their identity management needs, Schmidt said at a Jan. 31 conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Describing the White House’s strategy for trusted identities in cyberspace, Schmidt said the government’s role will be “facilitator” and  customer.

“We will bring the people together,” Schmidt said. “We can help convene a lot of these things. But the government will also be a customer of these. And I think there’s nothing better than having some identity that I use in an e-commerce environment, I can use that same environment in the government.”

“It is really difficult for the government to ask people—the private sector--to do stuff that the government is not willing to do. And that’s truly the thing we need to do,” Schmidt added.

What is driving the activity is a need for more comprehensive greater identity protection and assurance while on the Internet, he said. A few years ago, commercial firms and individuals were more willing to write off small losses, but now there is more support for comprehensive solutions.

“I think there is a bigger picture now,” Schmidt said. “The White House and many of you in this room have said, it’s not just about the money. It’s the trust in the system. It’s the ability to build the system. And I think that’s what’s really got people thinking about this more than just, oh gee, there was a little loss that I can write off.”

White House officials are actively meeting with private sector technologists and business people to foster development of the ecosystem, Schmidt said.

“We meet with Congress regularly. We meet with CEOs, the venture capitalists--four or five workshops to date – continuously saying, here’s what we need, and asking private sector to build it. So I think there’s a whole different discussion today than what we had 11 years ago or even 3 years ago,” Schmidt said.



About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Reader comments

Thu, Feb 2, 2012 John Wonderland

Schmidt said "And I think there’s nothing better than having some identity that I use in an e-commerce environment, I can use that same environment in the government.” REALLY?!?!? So he wants to put substantial time and money into merging social web with government application access? This gets us what? Single Sign On for Facebook and, say, a federal personnel system...we need this why? Is anyone else shocked at this nonsense?

Thu, Feb 2, 2012 John Denver

I'm curious as to what technology congress is discussing? Why are political leaders discussing technology? As a geek, I don't try to fix the political problems in our system while being paid to geek, I wish the legal folks would stop putting on hats that are a bit too big for them (Sarbanes-Okley is a great example of political tech snafu). Please, oh please, keep the Poly-legal folks out of ID Management...it will surely end up wasting massive globs of time and money. With so many solid ID Management systems out there, the last thing we need is one architected by lawyers and salesmen...ick.

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