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NIH, Higher Ed Group Sign ID Management Agreement

The National Institutes of Health signed an agreement of "inter-federation" that will enable some higher ed researchers to use their existing network accounts to access approved NIH systems and services, such as content resources, training, and mentoring.

The deal between NIH and the higher education community's InCommon Identity Management Federation (InCommon) eliminates the need for researchers to maintain multiple accounts and protects the privacy of  users accessing online materials, NIH said.

The deal covers 60 participating colleges and universities whose researchers will use open-source single sign-on (SSO) technology to enter NIH's online information and web-based resources.

NIH Acting Chief Information Officer Jack Jones said the agreement expands collaboration among government and academic researchers.  "We are honored to be the first federal agency to interfederate with the distinguished higher education institutions and sponsored partners of InCommon," he said.

John Krienke, the operations manager of the InCommon Federation, said he hoped the agreement would lead to standard arrangements for private collaborations. "Our work with NIH will create opportunities for privacy-enhanced collaborations to become standard platforms for managing shared resources," he said.

InCommon says its mission is to enable "production-level end-user access to a wide variety of protected resources."  The group uses Shibboleth as its federating software.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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