OMB freezes authentication technology buys

The Office of Management and Budget wants to buy authentication technologies for use governmentwide and has asked agencies to halt individual procurements.

Mark Forman, OMB's administrator for e-government and IT, earlier this month told CIOs to refrain 'to the maximum extent possible' from buying authentication or identity management technologies without first getting the go-ahead from the E-Authentication team or the Federal Identify and Credentialing Committee.

OMB recently created committee to develop a common policy for credentialing federal employees. E-Authentication, led by the General Services Administration, is one of the 25 Quicksilver e-government initiatives.

'The federal government is spending in excess of $160 million in fiscal 2003 and 2004 on potentially inconsistent or agency-unique authentication and identity management infrastructures,' Forman said. 'Agencies also have inconsistent approaches to both physical security and computer security.'

These inconsistent approaches are hindering full implementation of the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, Forman also said.

To improve the situation, OMB has asked agencies to comment on the e-authentication policy GSA released last week and on coming National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance.

By year's end, OMB plans to select vendors to provide credentials and public-key infrastructure services. Once the companies are chosen, agencies will need to develop migration strategies for moving to the governmentwide options, Forman said.

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