Single Sign-in For Government Services Expands to States, Localities

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Connecting state and local government leaders

The federal government is looking to partner with state and local governments to grow its Login.gov service, which it says is secure and user friendly.

The U.S. General Services Administration is looking to partner with state and local governments to offer user authentication and identity verification services for users of federally funded programs. 

Seventeen federal agencies use the Login.gov website to offer secure and single sign-in services and the expansion would allow state and local governments to utilize it for federal programs administered at the local level, including Medicaid and Medicaid managed care plans. Through Login.gov, users only need one account and password to access the participating federal services.

The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the need for agencies to simplify the process of obtaining government benefits and services at the state and local level, a GSA spokesman said.

“Login.gov’s user-friendly, secure service is an ideal solution to help people get access to those resources during the time they need it most,” said spokesman Matthew Burrell in an email response to questions about the program.

The GSA announced earlier this year that it is looking to bring a limited number of state and local governments on board to use Login.gov. Both government partners and citizens would benefit from the expansion, officials said.

For state and local governments, Login.gov offers a cloud-based authentication service that protects user privacy and increases security. Burrell said the GSA uses best security practices as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The service also offers a baseline level of security protection, including two-factor authentication, that state and local governments either would have had to build into their systems or may have gone without, said one policy expert.  

“Should every local government be rebuilding an authentication system?” said David Eaves, a lecturer of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. “There are huge economic benefits for not reinventing the wheel over and over.”

For citizens, the service provides a single account that can be used to access government services across a range of agencies.

“It has clear benefits for the user because you don’t have to remember a unique password for each and every one,” Eaves said.

Login.gov is limited to state and local programs that are federally funded and would not include local government services. The governments that participate will pay usage-based costs for Login.gov services, Burrell said, which includes user support and technical onboarding support. He did not provide an exact cost for services.

Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.

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