GAO questions E-Authentication timetable

The General Services Administration’s timetable for building a gateway for the E-Authentication project is unrealistic, the General Accounting Office said yesterday.

GSA has reached few of its policy, procurement and technology objectives for E-Authentication, auditors said in the report, Planned E-Authentication Gateway Faces Formidable Development Challenges. “The modest progress achieved to date calls into question the likelihood that the project can successfully field an operational gateway, even within the revised schedule,” they said.

GSA originally expected to finish the gateway by last month, but the Office of Management and Budget extended the deadline to March 2004. E-Authentication is one of the five Quicksilver e-government projects managed by GSA and underlies plans for all 24 of the other Quicksilver projects.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the Government Reform Committee, had asked GAO to examine the project. After seeing the report, he wrote to GSA administrator Stephen Perry requesting a meeting (Click for Oct. 15 GCN story).

The auditors said GSA must:

  • Establish policies for consistency and interoperability among different authentication systems, and develop technical standards.


  • Finish defining user authentication requirements for the 24 other e-government projects; GSA said 12 have been finished.


  • Deal with funding, security and privacy issues.


  • “We have serious concerns about the progress of the project,” said John de Ferrari, an assistant director in GAO’s Office of Information Management Issues. “Our biggest concern is with the amount of work that needs to be done to make the gateway really work. The idea of doing it extremely quickly in a matter of months seems to be unrealistic.”

    De Ferrari added that GAO does not believe the development work has been mishandled, but the agency should take the time necessary. Developing policy and achieving interoperability are GSA’s main hurdles, he said.

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