US government agencies hop aboard Liberty Alliance

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) have become some of the latest members to join the Liberty Alliance Project for implementing open standards for identity management on the Web.

The government agencies' support, announced Wednesday, brings the alliance's total members to over 160 companies and organizations seeking to deploy open standards for federated network identity. But although Liberty Alliance continues to garner support, the project, which was begun by Sun Microsystems Inc. in 2001, has yet to see widespread implementation. This is partly due to the weighty competition it faces from Microsoft Corp., which has its own authentication system, dubbed Passport.

However, a poll released by the Liberty Alliance earlier this year indicated that over half of the members polled plan to implement IT projects this year using standards set forth by the group.

The GSA and DoD hope that by joining the project they will be able to more readily meet one of the government's 24 e-government initiatives of "eAuthentication," which will verify the identities of both citizens and businesses doing business with the government over the Internet, according to Liberty Alliance.

Meeting this goal is especially important for the GSA, which is responsible for developing and implementing an infrastructure for common authentication services across the federal government.

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