Department of Labor and USPS join forces to verify identity

The Department of Labor is planning a new pilot in the unemployment system with the US Postal Service that will allow people to identify themselves at post offices.

“We’re going to be doing a pilot with USPS soon … to use some of their retail locations so people in states, especially rural areas where the state employment agencies are further away or people don’t have internet connections and things like that, they can walk into her.” local post office and carry out proof of ID,” Gundeep Ahluwalia, the agency’s chief information officer, said during a panel discussion hosted by FCW on Wednesday.

Ahluwalia said the ideals driving the Labor Department’s work on unemployment assistance are to improve equity and timeliness and reduce fraud, and that the upcoming identity verification pilot with USPS will help all three.

“Regardless of what part of the country you are in, regardless of which side of the digital divide you are on, whether or not you own a phone or have an internet connection, you should be able to take advantage of it use it when you need it most,” he said.

On the fringes of the event, he told FCW that details such as the number of participating states were still being worked out. The targeted timeline is rollout at a few locations over the next calendar year.

The move comes as the department continues its efforts to modernize and improve the delivery of unemployment benefits, a feat that states and territories are making by awarding states, sending in technology teams, and testing solutions.

“I am particularly proud that we are not only thinking about digital solutions, but developing digital solutions to enable applicants to use non-digital ways, for example to carry out ID checks,” said Ahluwalia during the panel. “So digital solutions – we will have [application program interfaces] that provides a link between the state systems and USPS – but it’s meant for that person in a zip code where the internet connection is probably three miles away from that person. That is also our goal. We do not want to leave this plaintiff behind.”

This isn’t USPS’s first foray into identity verification. They already offer personal proof of identity for some of their own services and already help some other agencies with proof of identity. The Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 expanded its ability to provide non-postal services to all levels of government.

The Department of Labor will be able to draw on the existing work that USPS has already done with other federal agencies, Ahluwalia said, but “what will be unique is the API connectors to various state systems.” is a different ball game that no one else is doing and that is what our team will focus on.”

The USPS Inspector General, in a May 2022 white paper, suggested that USPS scale its personal identification offerings or act as a validator of identity attributes such as names and addresses for other agencies. USPS management said in a response included in the report that while it continues to work on proof of identity and verification capabilities, expanding them will depend on alternative sources of funding.

In addition to upcoming work with the unemployment assistance system, USPS is also working with GSA’s, a shared login and identity verification service.

“The Postal Service’s unmatched retail presence presents a unique opportunity for government agencies such as: B. the General Services Administration, who must conduct an in-person review. We are actively working with government agencies today to do this,” a USPS spokesman told FCW.

According to the website, personal proof of identity is offered for at seven USPS locations in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia. Individuals begin the process online and then bring a government-issued ID and proof of address for in-person verification to match the digital application with the real person behind it.

The Department of Labor has also made efforts focused on proof of identity in the unemployment system.

The department is working on identity verification as part of a pilot project with US Digital Service, Arkansas and New Jersey.

The team launched in Arkansas in March as a digital alternative to the personal identity verification currently offered by the state, according to a GSA spokesman. If the pilot is successful, the effort could expand to other states, according to DOL.

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