NIST Readies Security, Workflow Pilot

WASHINGTON (08/09/2000) - The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology is getting ready to kick off a 100-seat pilot to test security and electronic workflow applications.

The E-Approval pilot participants, who are scattered throughout NIST, will begin using public-key infrastructure and digital signatures, electronic forms and workflow applications for "real work" within the next few weeks, said Bruce Rosen, associate director for CIO projects in NIST's Information Technology Lab. A final training class was held last week.

Using technology from Entrust Technologies Inc., NIST employees will be able to digitally sign and encrypt e-mail and electronic forms. But the pilot is more than just PKI, Rosen said. "It is actually part of a larger effort to do electronic workflow and include the ability to sign things within workflow using PKI," he said.

NIST plans to start out slowly, Rosen said, and test only a few forms and their associated workflow processes. Some forms, such as an internal work order to get a new key made, require few signatures. But other forms, such as a form used to initiate a procurement, must go through a more complex approval process that involves more people.

In some cases, the business process will change. "Using these electronic workflows can emulate the current method of processing paper or can change it," Rosen said.

NIST contracted with integrator Matcon to put the pilot in place. It is using products from HandySoft Corp. called BizFlow and BizForms to enable the electronic workflow and electronic forms applications.

If the pilot proves successful, it will be rolled out to the rest of NIST, Rosen said.

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