Feds to build high-level registry

The Federal Government has requested expressions of interest (EOI) from IT industry players to participate in a multimillion dollar, high-level registry.

The proposal is for a high integrity, commercially- and technologically-neutral e-business directory that uses the Australian Business Number (ABN) as the unique, electronic identifier of a business.

It is anticipated that the directory, which will be underpinned by digital certificates, will allow companies to make use of the ABN and associated Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) services like the ABN-Digital Signature Certificate to authenticate themselves online.

The directory will also develop the concept of tags for identifying multiple services and products offered by an individual company.

Currently, EOIs, which close on June 8, 2001, are being sought to assist with the underwriting as well as the provision of products and services to develop and secure the initiative in the B2B and G2B environments.

PKI providers eSign and Baltimore Technologies were unable to comment on their tendering ambitions for the project before publication deadline.

Briefing sessions for interested companies have been scheduled for Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

The project is being run through the Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business, the department that created the government's Business Entry Point Web portal for the business community in 1998.

Project manager Paul Griffin, of DEWSB's online services branch, said the directory is not designed to compete with existing B2B e-marketplaces. It would be an additional service sitting off to one side which companies transacting business electronically might want to use.

Griffin said the department was open to all suggestions concerning the proposed directory, including the idea it could be a joint venture using public and private funds.

"Basically, it will be one of the planks in the infrastructure which B2B needs in Australia. It will require a commitment from business. If business shows it is not interested, it won't go ahead."

"We have some basic premises but we are open to suggestions and innovative ideas."

The registry won't necessarily be mounted on a government host.

Griffin described the high-level registry as "basically a bread and butter directory . . .we don't anticipate it will host applications or hold vast quantities of information. It is a place where companies can lodge bare information about themselves and point back to where other information is held in their infrastructure."

(Pete Young writes for Industry Standard Australia).

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