Posted: Aug 18, 2016

The NASCIO awards committee recently completed their review of the nominations for the 2016 State IT Recognition Awards, selecting the North Dakota K-12 Identity Management Services Project as an award finalist. This recognition award is given annually to states that have implemented exceptional programs that have made an important contribution to the operation of state government. The award recipients will be announced at the NASCIO 2016 Annual Conference on September 18, 2016. The executive summary of the award nomination is available below. The full report can be viewed on NASCIO's website.

North Dakota K-12 Identity Management Services Project

Award Category: Enterprise IT Management Initiatives

EduTech, a division of the North Dakota Information Technology Department, provides technology services to the state’s K12 community. Before this project, one of those services was state-hosted email for roughly 60,000 K12 users.

Over time, the email system became increasingly incompatible with new technologies, such as advanced calendaring, collaboration tools, and document storage. Stagnation of services led schools to attempt to meet their own needs, causing fragmentation of school IT platforms. Additionally, the user accounts were built and authenticated using a custom identity management system. The workflow to add/remove users to the system was fraught with potential for security and data errors and redundant data entry.

These problems could only be solved with an enterprise approach. The state decided to automate identity management for students, teachers, and staff in all 200 school districts, and modernize both the authentication systems and technology services.

Active Directory was implemented as a single, unique, authoritative authentication system for services delivered by the State of North Dakota for K12 Schools. The Microsoft Forefront Identity Management (FIM) system was implemented to manage ND K12 identity records, and automatically provision and de-provision K12 Active Directory accounts based on data already being entered for essential business functions. Finally, Office 365 was launched not only as a replacement for the legacy email system but as a powerful collaboration tool for all K12 schools.

The overall project concept was to allow schools to put their efforts into educating students and not into user management, while providing them with tools to transform education and reach the state’s goals of providing 21st-century learning skills to students. It was completed 8.2% under budget ($395, 802) and on schedule (six months).

The transformation of North Dakota K12 educational technology due to this project is extraordinary. Namely, the new identity management and authentication solution improves data fidelity, increases security, and reduces the burden on school IT staff, while Office 365 has provided powerful email, calendaring, storage, and collaboration tools.