Top White House leaders tease forthcoming agency guidance for digital identity
OMB acting controller Deidre Harrison said Wednesday that she’s working with federal CIO Clare Martorana to get to agencies new guidance on digital identity following fraud in pandemic benefits programs.
The focus on fraud in government programs isn’t going away anytime soon, federal CIO Clare Martorana and acting Office of Management and Budget controller Deidre Harrison said during an event hosted by the CIO Council on Wednesday.
Identity verification and management will be essential to making progress beyond detecting and recovering funds already gone out the door to fraud, they said.
“In particular, we know that we need to make sure that we can be sure that the people who are saying they are the applicants, they are in fact who they represent themselves to be,” said Harrison. “That's a tough challenge and one that Clare and I and our teams are working hard on getting agencies the guidance they need to be ready to identify whether or not individuals are in fact who they say they are.
“Things could have been in place before this pandemic that would have had us better situated to get money out the door quickly to the right recipients at the right time,” added Harrison.
Their remarks come as stakeholders continue to wait for an executive order first promised last spring to combat identity fraud in public benefit programs.
According to a draft obtained by FCW, the administration is weighing provisions that would scale up the General Services Administration’s Login.gov solution and require agencies to offer a government-run identity solution in public benefit programs, although the order isn’t yet finalized.
Elsewhere in government, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which issues digital identity standards for government agencies, is also working on the first update to that guidance in years.
“Identity is really a key component of this,” said Martorana, who said that she’s analyzing what happened in the pandemic as part of a “blameless post mortem.”
She and Harrison both emphasized information sharing across disciplines and government silos as being essential to progress.
“It is not the case that agencies aren't on this,” said Harrison. “They just need to do more and to share with each other so that way, we're not duplicating efforts.”
Although Martorana and Harrison didn’t offer many specifics on what policies or changes to expect, the pair said that the focus on fraud and identity isn’t going away.
“This is the beginning,” said Martorana. “This isn’t a one-day thing and we’re going to go on our merry way.”