Collaboration and shared services are concepts that get a lot of attention, but they only work when all the pieces are there. Virginia’s Commonwealth Authentication Service (CAS) — an identity management platform that will support e-government activities by agencies across the state — shows what’s possible when collaboration is done right. Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources, the DMV and the Virginia Information Technologies Agency teamed up to launch the innovative shared service.

The partnership is the product of visionary leadership and good timing. Several years ago, DMV CIO David Burhop was preparing to buy a powerful new set of identity management tools. At the same time, the Health and Human Resources Department was gearing up for Medicaid eligibility and management system upgrades driven by federal health-care reform.

Health and Human Resources Secretary William Hazel saw that federal funds for improving Medicaid authentication could be leveraged to improve identity management for the entire state. Burhop, the state’s identity management expert, was a natural ally. So Hazel’s agency paid for the technology tools and Burhop’s team implemented them, creating the CAS. State CIO Sam Nixon is the final link in the chain, providing the enterprise platform and cost-recovery mechanisms that will make the CAS available to other agencies this year.

Ultimately the state expects to use the CAS to confirm identity for a wide range of online transactions with citizens. And internally, the common identity platform could improve data sharing among agencies.

“The goal is to create a tool for the commonwealth without having a separate tool in every agency,” Hazel said in an interview last year. Thanks to innovative thinking by these three Virginia leaders, the goal is becoming a reality.

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Colin Wood Colin Wood  |  Staff Writer

Colin has been writing for Government Technology since 2010. He lives in Seattle with his wife and their dog. He can be reached at cwood@govtech.com and on Google+.