E-Authentication RFI due this month

E-Authentication imitative

By the end of the month, the General Services Administration will release its formal call to industry for ideas on how to proceed toward a single authentication infrastructure for all e-government services.

The GSA-led e-Authentication team plans to release a request for information within the next two weeks for the gateway, which is intended to validate users for the other e-government initiative applications, Steve Timchak, GSA's e-Authentication program manager, said June 18 at the Industry Day Conference at the Commerce Department.

The gateway would consolidate the validation of multiple levels of authentication, such as a password or a digital certificate, through a single interface.

The Bush administration's entire E-Government Strategy is built on the concept of eliminating redundant services and investments. The e-Authentication initiative is intended to be an enabler for the e-gov initiatives that are focused on specific services with longstanding legacy applications in multiple agencies.

E-Authentication also has a group of legacy applications that it must overcome, said Mark Forman, associate director for information technology and e-government at the Office of Management and Budget, which oversees the E-Government Strategy.

Dozens of unique, redundant authentication systems exist throughout the federal government, he said. Many agencies have signed contracts to stand up additional public-key infrastructure certificate authorities, which issue some of the highest levels of digital credentials, in the past few months, he said.

"We have e-authentication today; it's just not smartly architectured," he said. "There's got to be some consistency, and it has to be citizen-focused."

Beyond the gateway, the e-Authentication initiative will not lead to something that just sits on top of the existing, redundant solutions, Forman said. "We will have to retool the investments different agencies are making," he said.

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