Pilot programs for an open government

Ten industry leaders — Yahoo!, PayPal, Google, Equifax, AOL, VeriSign, Acxiom, Citi, Privo and Wave Systems — announced they will support the first pilot programs designed for the American public to engage in open government — government that is transparent, participatory, and collaborative.

This open identity initiative is a key step in President Obama’s memorandum to make it easy for individuals to register and participate in government websites — without having to create new usernames and passwords. Additionally, members of the public will be able to fully control how much or how little personal information they share with the government at all times.

These companies will act as digital identity providers using OpenID and Information Card technologies. The pilot programs are being conducted by the Center for Information Technology (CIT), National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and related agencies. The participating companies are being certified under non-discriminatory open trust frameworks developed under collaboration between the OpenID Foundation (OIDF) and the Information Card Foundation (ICF) and reviewed by the federal government.

Today’s announcement paves the way for individuals to use these new services and customize their experience on government websites without needing to reveal any personally identifiable information – including passwords. It also takes advantage of best practices from the private sector for protecting privacy and security, including making it easier for citizens to have pseudonymous interactions with government sites when desired.

Under the OIDF and ICF’s open trust frameworks, any organization that meets the technical and operational requirements of the framework will be able to apply for certification as an identity provider (IdP). These IdPs can then supply authentication credentials on behalf of their users.

“This is a significant leap in participatory democracy,” said Don Thibeau, executive director of the OpenID Foundation. “Following President Obama’s directive, our government has worked with market leading companies to leverage modern, open standards to engage with its citizens. When the government adopts open identity standards and trust frameworks, the result is better service, more transparency, and greater accountability.”

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