NSTIC appears to have dodged NIST sequester cuts

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace is moving ahead with current plans to establish more pilots and programs this year.

The US federal budget sequestration is not expected to eliminate or reduce any of the pilots and programs in place as part of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), according to a source at the Commerce Department.

The $85 billion in cuts triggered by the sequester, which went into effect March 1, hit the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to the tune of $38 million. NSTIC is run by NIST, which is under the control of the Commerce Department.

The Commerce Department official said, "The reductions required by sequestration will adversely affect all NIST cybersecurity related efforts through cutbacks on travel, contracts, grants, and other operational expenses. NIST currently does not anticipate eliminating or reducing NSTIC pilots or programs."

In November 2011, NSTIC, which was mandated by President Obama in April 2011, received $16.5 million in federal funding. In September of last year, NIST committed $9 million to five pilot programs marking a major milestone in the then 17-month-old NSTIC initiative.

The pilots address issues such as secure transactions, privacy, ecommerce, and federation. The five were selected from 180 applications submitted from higher education, hospitals, non-profits, commercial businesses, and governments.

Last month, NSTIC set in motion another round of pilot projects by soliciting applications for ideas. The funding amount for the new pilot awards is not yet set, according to the NSTIC National Program Office, which said full implementation of the program and issuance of awards is subject to the availability of funds in the 2013 budget.

NSTIC pilots are meant to cultivate ideas that will anchor an online "identity ecosystem" to be built and managed by the private sector. The idea is that the programs will build and test technology, identity models, and frameworks to support a standards-based identity infrastructure.

NSTIC is not about a national ID card, but about an identity network to help stimulate and secure online interaction and transactions. It is analogous to the ATM banking system, where credentials issued by private entities (banks) are valid among multiple systems


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