New report offers recommendations for ID management

A new report by a federal task force on identity management catalogs the challenges government agencies face in collecting and using personally identifiable information—and outlines an initial set of recommendations for building a more organized framework for identity management.

Duane Blackburn, a policy analyst with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and a member of the Identity Management Task Force, highlighted the group’s findings at an identity management conference held by the International Technology Association of America.

Among the task force’s conclusions:

  • There are more than 3,000 systems within the U.S. government that utilize personally identifiable information (PII), and the vast majority of these were designed and managed independently from one another.

  • Duplicative identity data is frequently stored in multiple locations within the same agency and across agencies, resulting in problems with accuracy and complications when an individual seeks redress;

  • A lack of commonly used standards makes cross-function collaboration difficult, making it harder to respond to time-sensitive missions;

  • Privacy protection efforts vary in complexity across agencies; and

  • The absence of a single governmentwide forum responsible for coordinating and homogenizing identity management efforts continues to hamper progress.



Specifically, the task force recommended developing an identity architecture with three components: digital identity repositories, where personal identifiable information is stored; privilege applications, which grant permission to complete transactions; and a global telecommunications grid that can support screening and authentication functions.

While the work of the task force is still in the early stages, Blackburn noted that the coalition would continue to push for a standards-based architecture that protects privacy, improves accuracy and provides greater authentication and access controls.

The task force is made up of representatives from a number of agencies including the Defense, State, Justice, and Homeland Security departments, the Office of Management and Budget, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal CIO Council, and the National Science and Technology Council and its subcommittee on Biometrics and Identity Management, which led the task force.

The complete report is available here (.pdf).

About the Author

Wyatt Kash served as chief editor of GCN (October 2004 to August 2010) and also of Defense Systems (January 2009 to August 2010). He currently serves as Content Director and Editor at Large of 1105 Media.

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