The National Institute of Standards and Technology announced a competition to award a approximately $10 million for pilot projects to accelerate progress toward improved systems for interoperable, trusted online credentials that go beyond simple user IDs and passwords.
The NIST-hosted national program office will manage the competition for the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. According to the Federal Funding Opportunity, NIST anticipates funding five to eight projects for up to two years in the range of approximately $1.25 million to $2 million per year, though proposals requesting smaller amounts may be considered. The deadline for submitting initial proposals is March 7.
The opportunity cites a number of barriers that have prevented identity solutions from being widely deployed in the marketplace including:
- The need for technical standards that ensure interoperability among different identity authentication solutions;
- A lack of clarity about liabilities when something goes wrong;
- No common standards for privacy protections and data re-use;
- Issues with ease of use for some strong authentication technologies.
NIST seeks proposals that address some or all of these barriers while adhering to the four central principles guiding NSTIC; identity solutions should be privacy enhancing and voluntary, secure and resilient, interoperable, cost effective and easy to use.
For example, the funding opportunity notes that proposals could include, but are not limited to, technologies or approaches that:
- Create identity hubs to quickly validate credentials with strong authentication methods meeting agreed upon standards,
- Provide incentives for consumers to use trusted authentication methods in lieu of user IDs and passwords,
- Include improved ways to enhance consumer privacy, while simultaneously meeting business and security needs, or
- Demonstrate interoperability across various technologies such as smart cards, one-time passwords or digital certificates.
To apply for funding proposers must be: accredited institutions of higher education; hospitals; non-profit organizations; commercial organizations; or state, local, and Indian tribal governments located in the United States and its territories. An eligible organization may work individually or include proposed sub awards or contracts with others in a project proposal, effectively forming a team or consortium.
On Feb. 15, NIST plans to host a proposer’s conference from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., to offer guidance on preparing proposals, explain criteria to be used in making awards, and answer questions from the public. The event will include a live Web cast.