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Fed’s Authentication Service Comes to State, Local Gov

The General Services Administration is now offering, an authentication and identity verification service, to state and local governments. Some restrictions do apply.

Some state and local governments can now take advantage of, an authentication and identity-proofing service developed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). 

According to the GSA blog, the service will be provided to a “limited number of state and local government partners” that administer federally funded programs. Governments are encouraged to reach out to GSA here

The service is managed by GSA organization Technology Transformation Services (TTS). The blog states that TTS “will limit engagements with state and local entities to work that is linked to federal programs in which TTS is uniquely positioned to provide assistance.” 

A GSA spokesperson shared more eligibility details with Government Technology in an email.

“We must seek new partners at the state and local level which are viable for launch in the first year, have technical capabilities for integration, and specific qualifying factors such as requiring that a program is linked to other federal programs,” the GSA spokesperson said. “We must also prioritize engagements with state and local entities that are currently working with the United States Digital Service.”

The service has existed since 2017 and was created to help federal agencies secure their websites. According to the product page, the service “is used by over 60 applications at 17 agencies including Cabinet level agencies such as the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy, and the Department of Transportation.” More than 17 million individuals have signed up for the service.

To provide a specific example, the GSA spokesperson detailed how the service has benefitted the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, particularly during COVID-19. 

“[T]he Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) has approximately 770 employees serving over 500,000 beneficiaries,” the spokesperson said. “The RRB’s unemployment application demands increased in April 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With, claimants can now verify their identity online and immediately access services supporting their benefits. They can do this without calling, mailing forms, or visiting the agency’s field offices. RRB users who verify their identity online are able to reduce the normal processing time for critical unemployment and sickness benefits.”

As for why state and local governments should consider using over other options, the spokesperson said the cloud-based service helps agencies focus on their mission by addressing authentication and identity verification concerns based on standards defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 

GSA also ensures that the service is easy to use. 

“We utilize a human-centered design process with the goal to be accessible to every individual regardless of race, socioeconomic status, and digital skill level,” the spokesperson said. 

The spokesperson added that will “prove to be a critical part of the infrastructure to help navigate this pandemic and beyond by providing the public a way to easily access participating online government services securely and seamlessly, with one account.”

Jed Pressgrove has been a writer and editor for about 15 years. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in sociology from Mississippi State University.
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