Feds plan for common IDs by 2006

Judith Spencer

The Federal Identity Credentialing Committee will develop governmentwide standards to make machine-readable IDs acceptable throughout the federal government by 2006.

Judith Spencer, the committee's chairwoman, discussed the plan last week at the Federal Information Assurance Conference at the University of Maryland.

The ID framework would remove much of the need for the Federal Bridge Certification Authority, which Spencer oversees at the General Services Administration. The authority has tried to foster public-key infrastructure adoption by agencies.

'The future of the bridge will be with external organizations,' she said. Through it, participating agencies will accept digital credentials issued by other participants, such as the state of Illinois and the Canadian government.

Pilots are under way to exchange cross-certificates with members of the Higher Education Bridge Certificate Authority and an aerospace industry authority, Spencer said.

The Federal PKI Steering Committee and the Federal Smart Card Managers Committee established the credentialing committee in June. Participants include federal human resources managers, physical security specialists, and representatives of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Office of Management and Budget.

The committee will set requirements for physical and electronic credentials and policies for issuing them, Spencer said.

Many government agencies do not recognize ID cards issued by other agencies, and there is no infrastructure to verify them, she said. A credentialing framework would make machine-readable IDs acceptable to all agencies and would enable centralized cross-agency functions such as payroll and e-travel booking, she said.

'Technically, industry is there,' Spencer said. 'It's just a matter of us getting our act together. We should not be stovepiping if we don't need to.'

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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