OMB working on e-authentication guidance

The Office of Management and Budget is circulating to agency CIOs new policy guidance on levels of identification and verification required for programs.

This federal identity policy is essential to OMB's E-Authentication Quicksilver initiative because it lays out the first deployment of the consolidation of transactions around the General Services Administration-led project, said Mark Forman, OMB associate director for IT and e-government.

'There are four levels of transactions that require different levels of identity within the four citizen-centered groupings,' Forman said today at the FOSE 2003 conference in Washington. 'We have to get the policy right and we have to get the e-authentication right. That is why we created the project.'

CIOs have been reviewing the policy for about a month and are submitting comments to OMB, Forman said.

Forman spoke on a panel of North American CIOs about how e-government is shaping government interaction with its citizens. Privacy and security are being handled similarly across all three countries.

Abraham Sotelo, Mexico's CIO, said all citizens are required to pay taxes online by using a magnetic card at their local bank. Last year, 30 million citizens filed taxes through this system. He also said the government issued digital certificates to their vendors so they can transact business on Mexico's e-procurement system.

Michelle D'Auray, Canada's CIO, said her country issues digital certificates to all interested citizens based on benefit programs or for use across all agencies.

'We ask citizens to answer four or five questions and every time they want to authenticate themselves, they answer those questions,' D'Auray said. 'We did not create a centralized database of information about our citizens, but each person is validated against the entitlement because the relationship is between the citizen and the service.'

Forman said the federal government's problems result from too many systems that don't share authentication information, which causes citizens to verify and validate their information many times.

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