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GCN : May 2014
National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), an initiative to develop an identity ecosystem of user- friendly credentials that can be widely used. The money, however, came from the Partnership Fund for Program In- tegrity Innovation, administered by the Office of Management and Budget to pi- lot ideas for improved delivery of state assistance programs. Because identity verification and management is such an important element in delivering benefits online, OMB decided the Partnership Fund would help fund the NSTIC pilots. Here's how the two states took up their challenge: 1. MICHIGAN: AUTOMATED, REMOTE IDENTITY PROOFING "Bridges" is Michigan's online system supporting applications for public assis- tance programs. It was rolled out in 2010 as a back end to support state workers who verify the identity and eligibility of applicants. At the same time, there was a limited rollout of the MI Bridges portal, a front end that lets applicants go through at least some of the applica- tion process from their computers. The portal was expanded to all of the state's public assistance programs in 2012, but much of the required identity proofing still is done manually, said project man- ager Cathy Fitch. There are different levels of identify proofing for applicants, and cash ben- efit programs require face-to-face meet- ings. "There is very little fraud in that program for that reason," Fitch said. But, "there is always room for improve- ment." The Michigan program hopes to raise the bar for fraud and at the same time off-load some of the manual work of identity proofing to a third part iden- tity provider. The pilot program will maintain the current ID proofing process, but would add an additional automated challenge as a second factor for verification. Af- ter the applicant enters basic informa- tion online---address, date of birth, etc.---the system connected with a third party (very likely a credit bureau) with additional questions. Questions might include "things that the person should know and that wouldn't be easy for someone else to find out" on short no- tice, Fitch said, such as, 'what street did you live on in 1989? Or, what kind of car do you drive?' During the pilot phase, scheduled to begin in May and run through Sep- tember, a score will be generated by re- sponses to the automated challenge. The pilot will be used to determine whether the automated challenge is as accurate as the manual process. The state will not provide any information to the third party, and the link for the challenge will be encrypted. "For all intents and purposes we are not making major changes in our busi- ness process," Fitch said. But if it is suc- cessful, it could streamline the job of One of the goals of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) is for agencies to be early adopters of the identity ecosystem being developed. The Federal Cloud Credential Exchange (FCCX) is a big part of that effort, said Jeremy Grant, NIST's senior executive advisor for identity management, and it is expected to begin operations this spring. FCCX, hosted by the U.S. Postal Service, will be a federated identity management hub to let participating agencies accept online credentials issued by trusted third parties. This would relieve agencies of the burden of managing credentials and allow citizens to log in for government services using tokens or digital keys issued by third parties. USPS last summer selected SecureKey Technologies to provide the cloud- based platform for the pilot program. The infrastructure provided by FCCX is only one element in enabling interoperable identity and access management governmentwide, however. Another key piece is standardized credentials. The Postal Service, along with the General Services Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, are addressing the issue of standardized identity solutions with a governmentwide contract for authentication and attribute validation services. A request for proposals has been issued by GSA for a limited quantity of authentication services to support the rst phase of the FCCX pilot. "This model shifts the government's acquisition focus to what it needs: services that provide authentication and attributes," of cials from GSA, NIST and USPS said in a prepared statement. "Credentials are of course a necessary element of these services -- but that fact alone does not mean the government should embrace a model where it pays for citizen credential issuance." -- William Jackson GCN MAY 2014 • GCN.COM 25 Government's credential exchange to go live soon