GSA readying RFI to figure out costs of E-Authentication

The General Services Administration will in the next month release a request for information on the cost implications of using existing credentials in the E-Authentication federation.

Georgia Marsh, deputy program manager for the E-Authentication initiative, one of the 25 original e-government projects, said the RFI also is asking vendors to compare the cost of issuing new credentials against bringing in existing ones from providers such as financial institutions.

'Since the federation is based on using credentials, we want to know how much it would cost to leverage the work of these organizations that have already issued them,' Marsh said at a conference on Homeland Security Presidential-12 and E-Authentication in Washington, sponsored by the Potomac Forum Inc. of Potomac, Md. 'We need to understand what the market will bear.'

Marsh said two financial institutions, Fidelity Investments of Boston and Wells Fargo and Co. of San Francisco, already provide credentials under the E-Authentication federation. Along with the two financial institutions, agencies and private companies also provide credentials. E-Authentication depends on third-party credential providers to validate transactions between agencies and the public.

GSA will use the information from the RFI to develop its strategic direction, including the cost to continue to operate the federation, Marsh said.

Marsh added that more and more agencies understand the idea of federated identities, especially with the push to meet HSPD-12 by Oct. 27. So far, 13 agencies have at least one application using the E-Authentication federation.

'We want to make sure people desire our service because it works and makes sense, not because it is a mandate,' Marsh said.

She added that more agency e-government projects are expected to use the federation in the near future.

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