Smarter Government: Ohio Integrates Agencies Through Single Sign-on Solution

Launched in 2018, the InnovateOhio Platform is a statewide initiative to smooth citizen transactions with government agencies online.

Under the leadership of Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, the InnovateOhio Platform recently successfully launched a key program to simplify the experience of citizens who conduct business with the government over the internet: the OH |ID single sign-on application.

Neal Gallucci, technical administrator for the InnovateOhio Platform in the Ohio Office of Information Technology, says,

“We’ve blended the proper user experience into identity and access management to make that a frictionless experience when dealing with your account, which can be difficult for some citizens. We’ve looked at those user journeys. We’ve looked at that data and said, ‘How do we make this accessible for all Ohioans and as frictionless as possible?’”

Brett Adamik, identity service manager at the Ohio Office of Information Technology, adds,

“We offer single sign-on, and we get self-service functionalities that apply to all of these different user journeys. If you have an account with one agency, that account will then transfer over to this other agency. And if you have to do any password recovery, it’s all self-service, it’s all easy to use and it’s all secure. It’s all built with that one-account concept in mind so that we enhance our user journey.”

This simple addition to the Ohio state enterprise has revolutionized the user experience across agencies.

Stakeholders Embraced Innovation, Then IAM

Ohio is standing up an application store, similar to Google Play or the Apple App Store, where users can locate government functions, Gallucci says. 

“We have over 600 federations. It’s hard to give importance to every one of them, but there are a lot of things people can do online through OH|ID. We recently cut over Ohio unemployment insurance applications to OH|ID to help implement identity proving services, as well as multifactor authentication, for example,” he says.

Adamik says,

“The concept is a single gateway to interact with this state. Usually, the state agencies operate with minimal interaction with one another, which creates a difficult user experience. The idea is that we are that central entity where you can come and connect with all of the applications or agencies that you need to connect with. Instead of having multiple accounts with every agency, now you just have the one account, you have the app store and you have control over your own account. If you want to say, ‘I’m done with this application,’ great. You unsubscribe from it.”

Gallucci acknowledges that selling stakeholders on innovation and establishing a governance structure were the toughest challenges when kicking things off a few years ago.

“We focused on proper change management, and it removed barriers to future change and it made change easier. And what did that allow us to do? It allowed us to innovate and allowed us to bring in technical solutions to solve problems like MFA, single sign-on, all those things,”

Gallucci says.

“We have some good partners working with us, like Deloitte Consulting and Amazon Web Services and IBM.”

Ohio Enables Cross-Site, Centralized Account Management

With the assistance of agency stakeholders and other partners, the InnovateOhio Platform team built “at birth” rules based off underlying attributes and also gave state agencies the tools required to manage access to their applications. 

The IT team has been working on an invitation system that would allow agencies to invite specific users to their applications. Through the invitation, Ohio citizens can smoothly create OH|ID account if they do not already possess them, smoothing over potential technical barriers to entry. 

Meanwhile, the OH|ID tool closed last year with an impressive list of accomplishments, including the establishment of a central access portal, production of self-service tools for account recovery and password management, enacting of identity proofing tools, implementation of MFA, and more.

“We are always adding more applications and services to our portfolio. The goal is to get as many user interactions into OH|ID as possible so that you can come here, file for unemployment, get a fishing license and do all these other things, all in this one portal,”

Gallucci says.