A recent McKinsey report found that the critical drivers of customer satisfaction with state government services are: fast, simple, and efficient processes; the availability of online options for completing interactions; and the transparency of information. Secure and convenient digital access to online state services can make a genuine difference to beneficiaries—that’s why these providers need to both deliver solutions and protect against fraud—while safeguarding personal information from malicious actors.
We know simultaneously achieving these goals is no simple matter. Make a service too hard to access and it fails to serve its customers; make it too easy and it fails to protect them from fraudulent access. To combat the many security incidents affecting individuals, President Obama released Executive Order 13681, which in Section 3 called for multi-factor authentication (MFA) and effective identity-proofing processes in digital services that involve personal data. While that applies to federal applications, we believe a healthy ecosystem demands meeting these goals at all levels of government and in the private sector.
We’ve already seen that NSTIC-aligned solutions can make a difference at the state level through the work of pilots in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Michigan Department of Human Services. According to a preliminary analysis conducted for our office by RTI International, the improvements to identity and authentication under the NSTIC pilot resulted in an estimated 8% reduction in Michigan’s Food Assistance Program backlog. The impact is roughly consistent with a one-day reduction in the time that an applicant may expect to wait for their application to be processed—a potentially very important day for an individual waiting for benefits.
The promise of more impacts of this kind motivated our first solicitation for 2016 funding. We’re addressing the need for effective identity-proofing and authentication to make meaningful impacts on state and local government services. We looking for eligible applicants—to include U.S. state, tribal, and local governments, institutions of higher education, and commercial entities working with those government entities—to pilot online identity solutions that embrace the Identity Ecosystem Steering Group’s Identity Ecosystem Framework. Specifically, identity solutions must:
- Enable online access to one or more state, local or tribal government service(s).
- Provide for a federated, verified identity that enables MFA and an effective identity proofing process meeting the risk needs of the service(s).
- Align with the Identity Ecosystem Framework Requirements.
- Allow for interoperability with other federations in use in the public and private sectors.
We’re looking for projects that will deploy pilots to test or demonstrate new solutions that are not widely adopted in the marketplace today. Keep in mind that for this pilot, services that are currently online and enabled are welcome to apply, as are services that are not currently enabled online. NIST anticipates funding up to four awards; each award will be in the range of approximately $1,000,000 to $1,250,000 per year for up to three years —and all applicants must meet one of the following conditions to be eligible:
- State, local, or Indian tribal governments located in the U.S. and its territories, or
- Commercial or nonprofit organizations or institutions of higher education located in the U.S. that have at least two state, local, or tribal government agencies representing two different governmental jurisdictions participating in the pilot through enabling online access to one or more state, local, or tribal government service(s).
We look forward to a new round of ambitious projects—and we’ll keep you informed about other opportunities in the future!
The deadline to apply is: Thursday, February 18, 2016 by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time
- Link to opportunity on grants.gov: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=280647
- Link to full Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) PDF: http://www.nist.gov/nstic/2016-NIST-NSTIC-01.pdf
- An applicant’s conference webinar will take place on January 7, 2016, from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time: http://www.nist.gov/itl/applicants-conference-for-2016-nist-nstic.cfm
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