GSA will create ACES Certificate Bank

GSA will create ACES Certificate Bank

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

MAY 16—The General Services Administration has awarded a digital certificate task order that will let it subsidize initial digital certificate efforts. By helping agencies pay for their initial digital signature projects, GSA hopes to jump-start the development of a federal public-key infrastructure.

GSA awarded two vendors a task order for 500,000 digital certificates under its Access Certificates for Electronic Services (ACES) program.

The agency last month announced its plans to create an ACES Certificate Bank at a forum to discuss the ACES contract with federal workers [see story,].

Under the task order, awarded May 11, Digital Signature Trust of Salt Lake City will issue up to 400,000 certificates and AT&T Corp. will issue up to 100,000 over a one-year period. The two companies will act as certificate authorities for the certificates, which will be provided to requesting agencies free of charge.

Officials have said digital certificates are critical because agencies need a mechanism for dealing with citizens on a one-on-one basis and for accurately identifying those citizens.

"We believe that offering these certificates free of issuance costs is a great opportunity to prime the ACES pump," said G. Martin Wagner, associate administrator of GSA for governmentwide policy. "We feel that these 500,000 certificates are just the tip of the iceberg and that someday the use of certificates will be as routine as telephone numbers, only much more secure."

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