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NIST Announces Pilot Grants Competition to Improve Security and Privacy of Online Identity Verification Systems

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is launching a competition for a fourth round of grants to pilot online identity verification systems that help improve the privacy, security and convenience of online transactions. The pilot grants support the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), a White House initiative launched in 2011. NSTIC's goal is to improve trust online through the creation of a vibrant "Identity Ecosystem," in which individuals and organizations are able to better trust one another because they follow agreed-upon standards and processes for secure, privacy-enhancing and interoperable identity solutions online.

NIST anticipates funding several grants, with awards of approximately $1 million to $2 million per year, per project, for up to two years. NIST is seeking to fund pilots that advance the Identity Ecosystem inline with the NSTIC's guiding principles: that identity solutions be privacy-enhancing and voluntary, secure and resilient, interoperable, cost-effective and easy-to-use.

NIST will fund projects that are intended to demonstrate or deploy new solutions, models and frameworks that either do not exist or are not widely adopted in the marketplace today. The projects could address the needs of individuals, private-sector organizations and all levels of government. Pilot projects that maximize their contribution to the development of the broader Identity Ecosystem Framework through public forums such as the Identity Ecosystem Steering Group (IDESG) are encouraged.

Accredited institutions of higher education; nonprofit organizations; commercial organizations; and state, local, and Indian tribal governments located in the United States and its territories are eligible to apply. While the applicant must be located in the United States, it may have a parent organization in another country.

NIST will hold an applicants' conference to provide general information regarding NSTIC, to offer general guidance on preparing applications and to answer questions. The date and time of the conference will be announced on the NSTIC website.

Applying for a pilot grant is a two-step process. The Federal Funding Opportunity, 2015-NIST-NSTIC-01, describes the format for an abbreviated application, which must be received through no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern, Tuesday, March 17, 2015. Once the abbreviated applications are reviewed, full applications will be requested from qualifying organizations. NIST expects to finalize the grant awards by September 2015. See the FFO at

Past grantees are improving online identity for students, parents, patients, seniors, veterans, online shoppers and a variety of other groups. They are helping veterans access their medical records online and receive retail discounts; allowing citizens to access state benefits online; and helping seniors enroll and securely access personal health records.

Released February 12, 2015, Updated January 23, 2023