DOD, private sector team up on ID management research

Several agencies have joined forces with the private sector and academia to tackle challenges associated with managing the digital identities of individuals in government and industry databases.

Those challenges include identity theft, financial fraud, computer crime, information security, travel and immigration, document fraud, and data breaches. They increasingly affect every aspect of society including commerce, government entitlement programs, public safety and national security.

The Center for Applied Identity Management Research includes 19 organizations, including Indiana University, the Defense Department, U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Secret Service.

Federal agencies continue to grapple with problems in identity management, including the need for new policies and technologies for secure information-sharing between systems, said Thomas Dee, director of defense biometrics in the office of the Secretary of Defense.

“If we identify someone who tried to blow up a bomb against U.S. forces in Iraq today, how can we ensure that person is identified and stopped if he tries to cross the border into the United States five years from now?” Dee said.

The key is to securely share identity information between the source of the information and other agencies, including Customs and Border Protection agents who control access at the borders, Dee said.

Some of the pieces are already in place with programs such as the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, which takes fingerprints from foreign visitors and checks them against various terrorist databases, Dee added.

A related challenge is to enhance interoperability between various identity management systems to use existing assets most effectively, Dee said. This means establishing ways to integrate or establish bridges between aspects of identity management, identity verification, cybersecurity, law enforcement data collection, and other areas, he said.

“The question is, how do you make sense of the data you have, and rework it for the mission?” Dee asked.

“CAIMR is a trusted public/private partnership of organizations focused on solving some of the nation’s most challenging identity management problems,” Gary Gordon, CAIMR executive director, said in a news release.

Other partners in the project include LexisNexis, IBM Corp., Cogent Systems, Visa and EquiFax.

About the Author

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

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