The government is to look overseas for methods of giving citizens unique online identification and secure access as part of its online strategy.
The e-government strategy, officially released late last month, poses the prospect of every member of the public needing a digital signature to authenticate themselves on government systems, through any computer or other information access tool.
Grades of authentication will be needed, depending on the sensitivity of the information, says Brendan Boyle, head of the State Services Commission’s e-government unit. To access information no authentication will be needed, but to change an address which would cause government agencies to change records, a user name and password might be required. Financial transactions are likely to need a public key infrastructure with digital certificates.
The strategy refers to the developing Secure Electronic Environment (SEE), together with a PKI policy as needed “to enable information to be shared and transactions to take place in a secure environment". Boyle confirms this will apply to citizens’ business with government as well as dealings among government departments.
Details of authentication policy are scheduled to be settled by June 2002, says State Services Minister Trevor Mallard, “but I will be trying to get it done earlier.”
Government has still not decided on having one portal or several for different categories of service, and, if the latter, how these will be categorised. The existing NZGO (Government Online) site looks like becoming a single entry-point to these portals.
Government departments will be given extra funding to discharge their e-government responsibilities.