Smart card-based identity management for all
Australian government staff has taken another step towards
reality with the release of key framework documents.
Special minister of state Gary Nairn announced parts of
the framework's publication online, including guidelines on
identity and police checks, data and privacy management. The
government has said it will implement the Identity Management for
Australian Government Employees Framework (IMAGE) by 2008.
"The purpose of IMAGE is to standardise identity management
policies and practices for employees and contractors in the
public sector and in the longer term ensure identity management
can be conducted seamlessly across agency boundaries," Nairn told
a smartcard conference in Sydney.
"It's envisaged that a smart card will be a key element of
IMAGE, providing both evidence of identity and access
The government expects cost savings and efficiency gains from
the system, improved security and easier facilitation of staff
that move between agencies.
Nairn also released framework documents on e-authentication
for individuals, and smart cards.
The smart card framework would be important to defining the
IMAGE card for government staff, according to Nairn.
A smartcard overview and principals document, a smartcard
handbook, and a standards and model specification for public
comment, were released.
Nairn said interoperability was one of the biggest issues in
the smartcard framework, not just in ensuring value-for-money,
but also to quell concerns.
"Interoperability between agencies shouldn't be seen as being
at the expense of citizens' privacy, rather it should be seen as
strengthening it. Certainly they're far more secure than current
cardboard Centrelink concession cards for instance."
The standards and model specifications will be of particular
interest to the many vendors expected to tender for the Department
of Human Services' access card.
"It is important to note that AGIMO began work on the
Smartcard Framework prior to the Government decision on the
Health and Social Services Access Card. The Government decision
on the permitted use, scope and limitations of the Access card
bound its use," Nairn said in a statement.
An overview and principals section was also published for the
other major framework release, the Australian Government
e-Authentication Framework (AGAF) for Individuals.
AGAF will guide government online services where individuals'
identities need to be verified.