Campus News

Task force will develop new identity system for employees, students

The days of being identified by your Social Security number on campus are coming to an end. Provost Arnett C. Mace Jr. has charged a new task force with developing a comprehensive identity management system. One of the specific components of the provost’s charge is replacement of the Social Security number as a primary identifier for an individual’s information.

The 25-member Identity Management Task Force, co-chaired by UGA Registrar Rebecca Macon and Duane Ritter, interim associate vice president for human resources, includes a cross-section of representatives from UGA departments, colleges, schools and units.

“The administration recognizes the necessity of collecting and maintaining confidential information related to students, employees and individuals associated with the university,” says Macon. “We are certain the end result of the task force’s work will provide confidence that the university is dedicated to ensuring the privacy and proper handling of this information.”

“Human resources is committed to protecting the private information of faculty and staff,” says Ritter. “We continually examine our processes and are encouraged by this comprehensive effort toward identity management.”

Currently, there are more questions than answers as the task force begins its work. The university has retained the services of SunGard Collegis to assist in the development of the comprehensive identity management system.

“Collegis has proven experience and success in the academic space,” says Barbara White, chief information officer and associate provost.  “As a provider of consulting services, they are not hardware-software vendors.  They will deliver to the university an unbiased and objective analysis, which will form a solid foundation on which to build our strategy.”

Over the summer, the group began taking a look at all of UGA’s current and future business processes that rely on the Social Security number as an identifier. A schedule for having the new identity management system up and running and its total cost are not yet available.

The creation of the task force does not mean that UGA students, faculty and staff are particularly vulnerable to identify theft, according to Bert DeSimone, director of communications for UGA’s Enterprise Information Technology Services.

“We are not aware of any identity theft on this campus where information stored on UGA systems was used fraudulently,” says DeSimone, who is also a member of the task force.

“UGA has reduced the threat to its systems very significantly over the past few years. We have changed many processes to reduce the vulnerability of our faculty, staff and students to identity theft,” DeSimone also says. “For example, our credit card processing of fees and purchases is much more secure now than it was just nine months ago. Many departments, such as card services, have already implemented systems that obviate the use of Social Security numbers as your identifier. Others are in the process of doing the same.”