GCN reports on Grants.gov’s plans to expand the number of credential providers servicing their user authentication requirements, thereby aligning with the E‑Authentication initiative. User authentication is different to user validation. The latter is simply an exchange of username and password. The former refers to a process of ensuring that the person claiming an identity has the rights to that identity (e.g. some bloke claiming to be me actually is me, and not an impostor). This is important in grants because the government only wants to hand money to people who are who they claim they are.
Up to now Grants.gov has used one credential provider, Operational Research Consultants Inc., but will now expand that, based on Security Assertion Markup Language 1.0 (SAML), to enable authentication against two more providers, namely the Agriculture Department and the Office of Personnel Management’s Employee Express.
It’s brave of Grants.gov to embrace an initiative such as E‑Authentication, and could have significant snowball effects across other e‑government programs as Grants.gov users obtain and want to reuse their credentials.
[7/18/06 16:56: Edited title to clarify that Grants.gov is expanding its use of E‑Authentication.]