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GSA Awards Digital Signature Certificates to Two Industry Partners

GSA # 9685

May 11, 2000
Contact: Eleni Martin
(202) 501-1231


WASHINGTON - The U.S. General Services Administration awarded 500,000 digital signature certificates under its Access Certificates for Electronic Services (ACES) contract to two of its industry partners as part of its program to introduce government agencies to the use of public key infrastructure.

The common public key infrastructure or "PKI" will allow the American public to electronically access privacy-related U.S. Government information and services over the Internet. ACES provides identification, authentication, and non-repudiation via the use of digital signature technology as a means for individuals and businesses to be authenticated when accessing, retrieving, and submitting information in communications with the government.

Under this task order, Digital Signature Trust of Salt Lake City, Utah will issue up to 400,000 certificates and AT&T will issue up to 100,000 over a one-year period. Both companies will act as Certificate Authorities for the certificates, which will be provided to requesting agencies free of issuance costs. Certificates are used to verify the identity of the user and are made available to the public and businesses by participating agencies. The Certificate Authorities, acting as neutral third parties, maintain the identity and public key information for each individual or business. Federal agencies can rely upon the authenticity of the certificates when interfacing with the public and the business sector.

"ACES is the direct result of the Administration's commitment to making the government electronically accessible to every American," said Sandra Bates, Commissioner of GSA's Federal Technology Service. "We are proud of the ACES technology and all its possibilities. Soon every American, who wishes to, will be able to securely communicate and do business with the Federal government over the Internet."

The recent Governmentwide Paperwork Elimination Act has brought new emphasis to providing electronic access to government services. ACES provides the security necessary to make electronic communications a reality.

"We believe that offering these certificates free of issuance costs is a great opportunity to prime the ACES pump," said Marty Wagner, Associate Administrator for Governmentwide Policy (OGP). "We are confident that Federal agencies will quickly see the benefits of providing businesses and the public with a safe and secure way to interact with the government over the Internet. We feel that these 500,000 certificates are just the 'tip of the iceberg' and that someday the use of certificates will be as routine as telephone numbers, only much more secure."

The ACES Customer Advisory Board, an executive level advisory group, will determine the distribution of the certificates based upon agency proposals. While normal ACES transaction fees will apply, the "up-front" costs of the certificates will be waived, providing substantial savings to requesting agencies. For further information regarding ACES and preparation of the proposal requesting certificates, call Helen Chapman, National ACES Marketing Manager, at 202-205-9639 or e-mail her at Helen.Chapman@gsa.gov.