Davis eyes E-Authentication delays

GSA E-Authentication site

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The chairman of the House Government Reform Committee wants an explanation of the problems facing the E-Authentication initiative.

In a letter sent this week to Stephen Perry, administrator of the General Services Administration, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) said he is concerned that delays could have serious effects on e-government as a whole.

The cornerstone of the initiative — the E-Authentication Gateway — was supposed to go live in September 2003, but that deadline has already slipped to March 2004, and General Accounting Office officials believe "there is real doubt whether this project can be completed, even by the revised date," Davis said in a letter to Perry, whose agency leads the E-Authentication initiative.

GAO officials haven't released the study yet, but Davis called for a full briefing on the initiative, which is meant to provide a common mechanism for ensuring the identity of people using many online government services and transactions. This includes the other 23 e-government initiatives and general efforts underway at agencies.

"The E-Authentication Gateway is critical to the federal government's effort to encourage its stakeholders to use electronic processes to conduct their transactions with the government and help make e-government a reality," Davis wrote. "So much of the government's work in this area is dependent upon a fast, safe and secure authentication service."

Both an interim gateway and governmentwide e-authentication policy already exist. GSA is working with Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute on the E-Authentication Risk and Requirements Analysis tool for profiles of authentication needs for each service and transaction.

But Davis said he's worried about GSA's decision to eliminate a step in the procurement process for the gateway, and the fact that the agency has not yet completed the other initiative's authentication profiles.

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