[OpenID board] OpenID Outreach and the Government Opportunity

Don Thibeau (OIDF ED) don at oidf.org
Wed Oct 7 13:50:49 UTC 2009



Executive Directors Summary

Now that we've had time to observe the reactions and resulting coverage from
the Open Identity for Open Government Initiative, I want to discuss what
we've gained and where we are headed.  Overall, the announcement, the
foundations' presence in Washington - at both The White House and the Gov
2.0 Summit, and the media outreach, was a big boost to OpenID adoption and
the open identity community. For so long, the media and online influencers
have taken a "looks promising but wait and see" approach to open identity
technology. This announcement advanced the discussion.


The government's effort underway is a pilot; a very deliberate beta test of
OpenID technology with new integration and interoperability tasks etc. We
don't know when we will finish but we do know we will make mistakes and
wrestle with usability and security issues.


We are at the beginning of a shakedown cruise on two tracks -the open source
identity technologies and the open trust frameworks.  Both are parts of the
GSA ICAM schema and both on the agenda of the OpenID Foundation and Identity
(IDF and ICF) boards to consider.   Just as we begin technical testing with
government pilots; we are also finalizing the certification or trust
framework process a critical element in government adoption and seen by some
industry leaders as applicable for high value commercial applications. The
US government is still finalizing requirements for credible, independent and
industry standards-based identity certification. Many international
governments as well as US state and local governments are studying the US
ICAM "schema" of technology protocols combined with industry self
certification models. Identity provider certification or Open Trust
Framework models have gained momentum after recent meetings with the Center
for Democracy in Technology and feedback from various government agencies
including the GSA ICAM leadership, NIST, NIH and the National Security Staff
in the White House. 


Given all the players involved it's hard to say what will be completed when.
The most valuable new dynamic is how many people and organizations are
coalescing around a practical and far reaching solution set for the
challenges of identity from a user perspective.  This goes beyond the tired
truisms that often characterize privacy versus security debates.  There is
today, a real hunger for real solutions in identity authentication. Whether
you frame discussions as open government, open source or open identity;
there are powerful political, public and commercial drivers at work
involving identity on the web. New legal and policy discussions around open
identity trust frameworks are a leading edge indication that practical
solutions are in play and pragmatic (private and public sectors)
organizations are involved


That being said, while the announcement resulted in approximately 30
stories, many of them were replays of the press release. I believe that
speaks to two issues. The first is we announced a pilot. That means that
once again, media can "wait" for the NIH implementation to go live and "see"
what the results are. Second, this is a complicated story and requires more
than a release to understand. The most comprehensive articles were the ones
where the reporters were briefed in person.  The joint briefings by me,
Drummond Reed, and the evangelism from Chris Messina, David Recordon and
Kaliya, paid off in outlets like Federal News Radio, Tech Target,
ReadWriteWeb, Wired and Fast Company.


Community and Collaboration

The other major take away was how well the OpenID and Information Card
foundations and community leaders worked together on the initiative. The
level of enthusiasm, cooperation and collaboration allowed us to accomplish
much in a short period of time with limited resources. The announcement and
conference served as a rallying event for the community and industry.  The
government adoption of OpenID remained front and center in venues like the
Tao of Attributes and the OASIS Meetings in Washington DC. See
http://middleware.internet2.edu/tao-of-attributes/agenda.html  and


Emerging from these events is the term "OpenID" as a category catchall for
the industry. This is most likely due to OpenID having strong recognition
and society's reliance on quick, sound bite, catchphrases, and the fact that
OpenID has some very well-connected, well-recognized brands working on its
behalf (Google, PayPal, etc) The industry, community and the two foundations
will discuss how best to manage that moving forward at IIW, the OpenID
Summit and boards meetings.


Outreach and Opportunity

Public relations, adoption and outreach, are processes not events. Open
identity has gained momentum and is in a strong position to grow. Not only
have we peaked interest with our pilot programs, but since the conference,
there continues to be stories in the blogosphere, mainstream and tech media
about the administration's open government efforts. 


I see several opportunities in front of us. The most obvious of course, is
to continue to update the media on our progress: new pilots, new IdP's,
results from the NIH program etc. The other opportunity is a more proactive
approach to communication. The open government story is in the news now. The
foundations need to draft Op-Ed pieces and offer spokespeople from the
community and companies to the media for commentary on the issues. We should
continue to leverage our member company resources and our community talent
pool as experts.  We know the media finds this story to be complicated.
Let's continue to brief them so that the next time we make a big
announcement, they are ready with background information and we are ready
with an open source, user centric perspective.

















































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