On March 22, 2020, Jeremy Grant was quoted in FCW regarding federal agencies’ efforts to manage collaboration internally and citizen service delivery as the government minimizes in-person interactions during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the article, Margaret Weichert, the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, directed agency heads in a March 22 memo “to use the breadth of available technology capabilities to fulfill service gaps and deliver mission outcomes."
"The government’s approach to authentication for the last 15 years has relied on issuance of a smart card containing PKI certificates through a robust in-person process," Grant told FCW. "While that has set a high bar for security, it’s not practical in a crisis where it’s not safe to bring people in to a face-to-face setting. This memo gives agencies some much-needed flexibility."
For a lot of feds who are experienced teleworkers, there is tight integration between their PIV cards and agency networks. But with agencies spinning up telework for feds who have not had much experience, there will likely be a need to support remote workstations without cards and card readers. Grant said that a FIDO security key or, if a hardware token isn't an option, a mobile app that supports two-factor authentication will help bridge the gap.
Grant said that right now, the lack of a national digital identity standard will inhibit service delivery. "Many services could be delivered remotely if America had a robust digital identity infrastructure – but we don't – and thus the partial shutdown," Grant said, in reference to the pivot to focus agencies on mission-critical activities. "I expect the need for more investments here to get additional attention in the months ahead."