GSA to subsidize 500,000 digital certificates for early users

GSA to subsidize 500,000 digital certificates for early users

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

APRIL 13'In an effort to jump-start digital signature efforts by federal agencies, the General Services Administration is close to awarding a task order that will provide digital certificates at a reduced cost.

GSA has created a so-called Certificate Bank task order, which is expected to be awarded next week. The program will cover some of the costs of issuing digital certificates under the GSA Federal Technology Service's Access Certificates for Electronic Services contract.

Agency executives have expressed concern over the up-front costs of implementing a public-key infrastructure that would use digital certificates. 'There are a lot of agencies in a hurry to be second,' said John G. Sindelar, chief of staff at GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy and chairman of the ACES Customer Advisory Board. The Certificate Bank program would subsidize an agency's cost of buying a certificate, though the agency would still have to pay the transaction fee each time the certificate is used, he said.

The Customer Advisory Board is creating a method for evaluating proposals for the bank's initial 500,000 certificates, he said.

Sindelar spoke at a GSA-sponsored forum promoting governmentwide use of ACES for digital certificates.

Digital certificates are seen as a cornerstone of electronic government initiatives because they will let citizens digitally sign documents, thereby assuring a person's identity. The ACES contract was awarded to three companies last fall [see story at www.gcn.com/vol18_no38/news/1058-1.html].

More information about ACES can be found at www.gsa.gov/aces/.

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