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Agencies provisioning more applications should consider cloud-based IAM, says expert

The use of centralized identity and access management tools is spreading from agency to agency at state and local governments, according to an executive who specializes in IAM technologies.

Centralized IAM solutions are helping to streamline identity and access issues for employees and citizens as state and local agencies look to modernize their IT, says Ted Girard, vice president public sector for Okta in a new podcast, produced by StateScoop and underwritten by Okta.

Girard shares several examples of state, county and local government agencies that are deploying modern cloud-based IAM solutions to improve both citizen and employee experience and how their efforts have spawned interest and adoption by other agencies.

He shared one example of how the state government of Texas rolled out its implementation agency-by-agency.

Girard describes how the state first started with the teachers retirement system, then with the Office of the Attorney General, the General Land Office and later the Texas Workforce Commission.

Citizen experience is really the driving factor on a lot of things here, Girard explains. Citizens want the same experience from their government interactions than they do in their everyday digital lives.

IAM solutions are also seen as a way to help agency IT departments address another concern: the growing number of employee- and citizen-facing applications they must support.

A recent study from StateScoop found that state and local agencies are typically supporting an average of 30 or more applications for employees and a significant portion of them expect that number to grow in the coming year. The study also found that 45 percent of state and local government IT leaders surveyed expect the number of citizen-facing applications to grow over the coming year as well.

As the survey suggests, more citizen-facing apps are coming, and that means more sign-on experiences to manage, says Girard, which pushes the burden of the experience onto the user.

Girard underlines how modern IAM solutions can enable users to securely log in once to get access to all entitled services based on the users credentials.

Additionally, IAM solutions can address another pressing concern revealed in the study , which found that it takes 1 in 6 IT agencies four or more hours to disable a user. Girard explains how this typically manual process is often managed through a ticketing system.

It begs two questions, he says. One, is this the best use of precious IT resources? And two, are we 100 percent positive that the person deprovisioned everything as they looked through the various systems?

Girard also suggested that the perception that IAM solutions can be hard to architect, implement and manage is no longer true. A cloud-based IAM solution that is delivered as a service mitigates common concerns about a lack of staff expertise, complexity and data integrity.

The big challenge now, he says, is that there are lots of alternative solutions available.

“But don’t believe the marketing hype,”Girard says. He recommends that agencies experiment with cloud-based offerings as part of free-trial programs that some providers, like Okta, offer.

This podcast was produced by StateScoop and underwritten by Okta.