Decades-old computer systems in use across state and local governments today were not designed to sustain the suite of digital programs and applications that governments use today, and often require citizens and employees to use different credentials for each application. Simplifying that process for internal programs and citizen-facing digital services is paramount for a successful modernization, according to James Weaver, Washington’s state CIO.
“Identity and access management is a foundational item for us as we begin our digital transformation journey,” Weaver said. “It is how we identify and provide access to not only our applications internally, from a state basis, but also to our residents.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued an executive order last October directing Weaver and other agencies to modernize their systems to meet Washingtonians’ expectations of “higher quality services, faster interactions, more and easier access to services and data, stronger data protections, and better outcomes.” To ensure that people actually realize the benefits of a new IT system, however, Weaver said they need to ensure they’re able to easily access the digital services available to them.
Some large government organizations, like the city of Boston, have found that introducing identity access management tools that hold every digital application under a single user name and password has improved security and reduced the amount of time employees and residents spend asking IT staff for help.
But Weaver said his challenge is designing a system that makes sense for Washington and its populace.
“You could be an employee, a resident or a small business owner,” Weaver told StateScoop last year. “And fundamentally, what we’re debating and investigating right now is, is that three separate identities? Or if you’re one individual, is that one identity?”