DHHS, NIH News  
Center for Information Technology

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Marie Lagana
Director, CIT Communications

NIH Announces InCommon Interfederation

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is pleased to announce a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for interfederation with the U.S. Higher Education’s InCommon Identity Management Federation (InCommon). With this partnership, users will now be able to leverage their existing accounts to gain access to approved NIH online systems and services like training, mentoring, and content resources. With 60 institutional participants, InCommon uses innovative open-source single sign-on (SSO) technology to provide a framework for its participating colleges, universities and sponsored partners to share protected online information and web-based resources. The federation eliminates the need for researchers, students, and educators to maintain multiple, password-protected accounts and provides privacy protection for individual users who require access to online materials.

Dr. Jack Jones, Acting Chief Information Officer for the NIH and Acting Director, Center for Information Technology, NIH notes, “We are honored to be the first Federal agency to interfederate with the distinguished higher education institutions and sponsored partners of InCommon. Our goal is for researchers to use their institutional identity credentials to authenticate to NIH online applications and services. All NIH online applications have been assessed and assigned one of four Federal Level of Assurance of Identity (LOA) requirements for authentication. We are confident that this agreement to trust and use each other’s credentials for applications assessed as Level 1 online will expand and enhance our collaborative efforts.”

Ms. Helen Schmitz, Acting Chief IT Architect for the NIH adds, “We are excited about interfederation with InCommon to create a common framework for trust in support of scientific and medical research and education. This important step forward for the NIH and InCommon reflects the vision and the professionalism of many colleagues across the NIH, Federal agencies, and industry partners. We are grateful to Dr. Peter Alterman, Ms. Debbi Bucci and many others who demonstrated exceptional understanding of the importance of authentication and authorization systems to taking collaboration to the next level.”

Mr. John Krienke, Operations Manager of the InCommon Federation, comments, "InCommon is delighted to provide its university participants with access to NIH agency Web resources. The InCommon Federation's aim is to provide a trusted framework for partners in research and education to grow their online collaborations in truly scalable ways around controlled identity management assertions. Our work with NIH will create opportunities for privacy-enhanced collaborations to become standard platforms for managing shared resources."

About InCommon, LLC
Contact: John C.W. Krienke, Operations Manager
(734) 352-7095

The mission of the InCommon Federation is to create and support a common framework for trustworthy shared management of access to on-line resources in support of education and research in the United States. To achieve its mission, InCommon facilitates development of a community-based common trust fabric sufficient to enable participants to make appropriate decisions about access control information provided to them by other participants. InCommon is intended to enable production-level end-user access to a wide variety of protected resources. InCommon uses Shibboleth® as its federating software.

About the NIH Office of the Chief Information Technology Architect (OCITA)
Contact: Dr. Peter Alterman, Assistant CIO for E-Authentication, NIH
(301) 252-8846

The mission for the NIH enterprise architecture program is to develop a comprehensive plan for IT support at the NIH. Given the expanding scope and increased specialization of medical research, as well as the need for innovation to achieve scientific breakthroughs, NIH acknowledges the need for both conforming and diverse business processes. OCITA’s vision is to establish an enterprise architecture that will enable efficient business processes and information access for all NIH Institutes and Centers (IC), and effective collaboration with stakeholders within partnering institutions, by providing the necessary common models, frameworks and standards, by which to build and plan:

  • Shared NIH enterprise systems.
  • A secure and robust core IT infrastructure.
  • Technical capabilities to enhance collaboration.
About the Center for Information Technology, NIH
Contact: Ms. Debbie Bucci, SSO Program Manager
CIT Division of Enterprise and Custom Applications
(301) 435-7546

The mission of CIT is to provide, coordinate, and manage information technology, and to advance computational science. The vision of CIT is to be a vital partner in the discovery of biomedical knowledge.

About the National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), an Operating Division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting peer-reviewed medical research and science. Helping to lead the way toward important medical discoveries that improve people’s health and save lives, NIH scientists and researchers investigate ways to prevent disease as well as the causes, treatments, and even cures for common and rare diseases. Composed of approximately 27 institutes and centers, the NIH provides leadership and peer reviewed financial support to scientists and researchers in every state and throughout the world.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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