Defense unit, IT federation collaborate on identity system

The Defense Department has signed an agreement with a federation of IT companies to connect identity systems and establish an interoperable authentication network.

The agreement formalizes the relationship between the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) and the Federation for Identity and Cross-Credentialing Systems Inc. (FiXs), which have been working together since 2003 to develop a secure means of authenticating employees while protecting their personal information.

'Over the last two years, the Department of Defense has worked aggressively on policies, processes and technologies to substantively raise the bar on force protection,' said Mary Dixon, Defense manpower deputy director.

'To do this effectively, we must ensure that the person coming through our gates or in our doors has been given access, that we can confirm that person's identity, and when that person's affiliation or trustworthiness changes, you know that in as near real-time as possible,' she said.

To accomplish that goal, the groups are moving toward federated agreements and solutions that allow members to trust each other's credentials.

The network established by connecting the DOD and FiXs systems verifies an employee's identity by relying on a federated approach, whereby each employee's personal information is maintained by his or her employer. The system is based on the model of commercial automated teller machine networks, in which each customer uses his or her bank's card, and each bank retains its customers' account information and relationship.

DMDC and all private-sector federation members retain their own employees' information, for there is no central database. To ensure trust and interoperability, federation members adhere to a common set of operating rules and a uniform trust model.

The founding members are:
  • BearingPoint Inc.

  • Data Systems Analysts Inc.

  • EDS Corp.

  • Lockheed Martin Corp.

  • NACHA - The Electronic Payments Association

  • Saflink Corp.

  • SRA International Inc.

  • SRP Consulting Group LLC

  • 3Factor

  • Unlimited New Dimensions LLC

  • Wave Systems Corp.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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