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GSA Awards ACES task order to AT&T for Access America for Students Initiative

GSA #9733

September 19, 2000
Contact: Bill Bearden (202) 501-1231
bill.bearden@gsa.gov


WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has made the first multi-agency task order to AT&T Corporation and its ACES (Access Certificates for Electronic Signature) Business Team to provide services under the ACES program. This will be used to implement common digital signature processes for multiple federal agencies through the initiative called "Access America for Students".

Under the "Access America for Students" initiative, post-secondary students, schools, and lending communities would have electronic access to government information and services via the Internet.

ACES is a joint effort between the GSA's Federal Technology Service and its Office of Governmentwide Policy to provide for a means for both citizens and businesses to obtain digital certificates that will be used to authenticate their identity in conducting transactions with government agencies. It is a key initiative in facilitating the response of Federal agencies to the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA).

In February 1997, Vice President Gore and the National Performance Review issued the report Access America: Reengineering Through Information Technology. This report presented a broad plan to provide for widespread electronic access to government information and services using the Internet and other communications systems available to the public.

In October 1998, GPEA was signed into law, mandating that Federal agencies provide individuals and entities the ability to electronically submit information or transactions by 2003. Additionally, all Federal forms that are completed by 50,000 or more persons must also be available electronically by 2003. In January 1999, Vice President Gore announced the Access America for Students program to provide such electronic access to the post-secondary student, school, and lending communities.

Five government agencies are participating under this task order as part of the Access America for Students program. The agencies are:

Department of Education's Office of Student Financial Assistance
Department of Labor
Department of Veteran's Affairs
U.S. Postal Service
General Services Administration

The program is being directed through a steering committee comprised of twelve Federal agencies and chaired by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Education's Office of Student Financial Assistance.

"This award represents an important milestone in advancing electronic government services to citizen groups," said Sandra Bates, Commissioner of GSA's Federal Technology Service. "Through the Access America web portal (students.gov), post secondary students and schools will be able to perform a wide range of business transactions electronically with multiple federal agencies in a common and secure way using ACES digital certificates."

David Temoshok, GSA's Program Director for Access America for Students, said, "The Access America for Students project will be the first opportunity to demonstrate the interoperability of ACES digital signature certificates, allowing participants to authenticate and sign documents with a number of Federal programs."

The following are the agency applications planned for trial using ACES:

US Department of Education--Free Application for Student Aid: The Department of Education receives 14 million federal student aid applications annually and plans to move the entire process on-line, first using PIN password access and then with digital signature.

US Department of Labor: America's Learning Exchange (ALX) Career Management Account: The Department of Labor Education and Training Administration (ETA) administers America's Career Kit -- the most comprehensive employment resource on the Internet. America's Career Kit includes America's Job Bank, America's Talent Bank, America's Career InfoNet, and America's Learning eXchange (ALX).

As part of the ALX, the Labor Department's Education and Training Administration is creating individual career management accounts to provide workers and students with a lifelong learning portfolio and a suite of on-line career management tools. The Department of Labor ETA projects an initial pilot program of 10,000 accounts requiring authenticated access and disclosure information. Each account holder will be issued an ACES certificate for digital signature access to and disclosure from their account.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs:

WAVE: WAVE will allow a student to electronically verify his or her enrollment every month over the Internet. The information the student provides will be used to electronically process the transfer of benefits due. Each veteran in the pilot program will be issued an ACES certificate to provide for digital signature of the monthly certification.

NetCert: The VA NetCert project will provide educational institutions the ability to electronically submit student enrollment information to VA.

VONAPP: This initiative will create an electronic application for VA education benefits to replace the paper applications now being filed by veterans.

US Postal Service Electronic Change of Address. The US Postal Service National Customer Support Center plans to pilot test electronic change of address using multiple methods of authentication, including ACES certificates for authentication and digital signature. When implemented, students will be able to submit digitally signed notices of address change directly to the US Postal Service web site.