E-Authentication gateway draws interest outside of e-gov projects

While the E-Authentication project, considered a main cog in the e-government wheel, is having trouble getting funds from partner agencies, IT leaders outside of the 24 Quicksilver projects are clamoring to use the gateway. But those project leaders might have to wait because funding problems have pushed back the timetable for a full launch of the system.

Adrian Fish, deputy project manager for E-Authentication, yesterday said agency partners have been slow to pony up funding for the gateway because some agencies haven’t realized the benefits.

“We have been working with our partner agencies so they see the value of the gateway. But I think as they see applications come on and the money [the gateway] is saving them, the value is being demonstrated,” she said. “We are going back to drawing board to try to get more money from partner agencies.”

Agencies requested $8.1 million for E-Authentication in the fiscal 2004 budget the administration submitted to Capitol Hill last week. That is down from the $12.1 million agencies requested in 2003.

While some E-Authentication partners are reticent, other government project leaders have been keeping her phone busy with interest in the gateway, Fish said.

“Non E-Government projects see the value in the gateway,” said Fish, who spoke at E-Gov’s Web Enabled Conference in Washington. “If a credential should change, and you weren’t hooked to the gateway, you would have to modify your system. If you are on the gateway and there is a new credential and that credential provider is on the gateway, there is no retrofit. It is just, away you go.”

The prototype gateway will go live in March with the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center and other projects, Fish said. But the funding delay will push the acquisition of the complete system into fiscal 2004.

“We will select a governmentwide contract to buy from, design, build and test and cut over to a production gateway,” she said. “Our milestone had been September and I don’t think we will make it right now.”

Fish said cost savings also are a factor in the interest the gateway is generating.

“It cost one agency $600,000 a year to maintain their user name and passwords for one project,” she said. “A lot of projects want to get out of that business. It is too expensive and takes too many resources away from mission-critical roles.”

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