President's exit does not worry Liberty Alliance

Although the Liberty Alliance's president stepped down last week, members of the organization said that the group is still on track to deliver the next set of specifications early next year.

United Airlines Inc. CIO Eric Dean stepped down Friday as president of the group's managing board, citing the "challenges" faced by his financially crunched airline as the reason for his departure.

"I think you'll see others ably step into the leadership role, and even in the interim Michael Barrett from American Express Co. is completely capable of filling in as he has done so often already," said Tony Scott, CTO of General Motors Corp., which is a member of the Liberty Alliance.

Indeed, the Liberty Alliance said that Barrett, American Express' vice president of Internet strategy, will chair the organization until a new president is found.

GM's Scott added that the group got off to a good start under Dean's leadership, but expressed understanding that United Airlines must come first for Dean.

United Airlines warned last month that it is considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The airline's problems are preventing Dean from devoting the necessary time to the Liberty Alliance, he said in a statement. United said it will remain a sponsor member of the group, retain its seat on the management board, and continue its involvement in several of the organization's subgroups.

The Liberty Alliance is a year-old effort to create open standards for identity management across a network, such as an array of password-protected Web sites. Initiated by Sun Microsystems Inc. in response to Microsoft Corp.'s similarly aimed Passport service, the organization now has more than 95 members. Version 1.0 of the group's specifications was released in July.

"I think the standards debate in this area is both maturing and expanding. I believe the Liberty Alliance concept has created other opportunities for businesses like GM to get more fully engaged in the standards process and bring a pragmatic customer view into the various processes," Scott said.

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