The benefits of a single digital identity for government services


The technology needed for a single digital government identity

The good news is that the technology needed to create a unique digital ID for citizens across government departments isn’t really revolutionary.

Like Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst of a computer consulting firm StorageIO Recount StateTech, the technology needed to link different applications or databases between agencies could be as simple as adding export or query capability to an old application or modifying databases so that external queries can access it.

This can be done in a “safe and secure way where you don’t actually introduce new threats or compromise that data,” he said, through programmatic APIs and other similar capabilities.

“The capabilities are there, maybe not as elegant as some would like, but it really comes down to the policies about who can access” the data, said Schulz. “What, when, where, why, and how can you grant these rights, access, and how can you revoke access to these controls to avoid inadvertent breach?” “

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Ohio, with its InnovateOhio Initiative, is one of the most advanced states in this journey. The state has developed an identity management solution called OHID, in which every Ohio resident has a unique account to access all government services.

“Our ultimate goal is to enable residents to conduct all of their business with government without ever having to step into a government office,” said former Ohio CIO Ervan Rodgers. StateTech earlier this year. “So far it has been a great success. We cannot meet the demand for the service.

Katrina Flory, chief information officer of Ohio, said StateTech on which OHID is running IBM’s Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) platform. It is an elegant solution that offers many tangible benefits to residents.

“If you want to pay your taxes online, you can use an ID to log into a government website,” Rodgers said. “But if you want to renew your hunting license, why use a different ID? It does not make sense for the citizen. Can anyone go to and look for something related to “veterans”, which will bring them to veterans services. Or, they can search for hunting permits without knowing that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources manages those permits. You are going to the correct area if you type “hunt”. We want this to be as smooth an experience as possible for our citizens. “

TO EXPLORE: How have government agencies adopted digital services during the pandemic?

How to help agencies get on board with just one digital ID

So if technology isn’t the hardest part, what is it? “I think the hard part is really putting in place the right policies and controls so that you know how to handle this data. That’s the part we’re trying to fix, ”said Colorado IT director Tony Neal-Graves. StateTech.

Different agencies within state government may have different opinions on the appropriate policies to secure data. Some may not just want to share their data or link it to another agency’s databases.

State CIOs and CISOs can work together to identify necessary security information and protocols at any level that might be acceptable to all agencies.

Ultimately, however, state CIOs and other IT officials in state government need political coverage from a governor or lieutenant governor to make something happen. as it happens. State CIOs are often not in office for long periods of time, so it will take sustained political will to get agencies to share data and make a unique digital ID a reality.

While this requires the investment of political capital, the benefits for state leaders should be obvious. If citizens have a better experience accessing government services and interacting with state agencies, they are likely to give credit to governors and have a more positive view of state government in general. If technology can help make life easier for citizens, it seems obvious in which to invest.

Citizens are more and more technologically savvy. Younger generations won’t want to conduct government transactions through paper-based processes or have to log into three different websites to access services or renew a license. A unique digital ID is the wave of the future for state governments. It would be a nice feather in the hat for elected officials and state IT officials if they could make it happen.

This article is part of StateTech’s CITzen blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter using the # StateLocalIT hashtag.


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