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Access Management

A blue box with the list of Access Management services defined later in the body text of this page.

Access Management is how an agency authenticates enterprise identities and authorizes appropriate access to protected services.

Policy administration is a combination of laws, regulations, rules, and agency policies that secure access to agency services. Your agency determines the requirements for an individual to access each resource category, and they can be as simple or as complex as you need. The following are some examples of access requirements:

  • “Grant access to anyone on this list of people.”
  • “Grant access to any agency employee or contractor with an authenticated PIV card.”
  • “Grant access to anyone who is a federal employee, GS-12 or higher, cleared Top Secret, trained in first aid, and certified as a project manager.”


Authentication is how you verify the claimed identity of someone trying to access an agency resource. Typically, you’ll verify an identity using an authenticator associated with a credential.

Authentication is generally a two-step process:

Step 1. Authenticate the credential itself:

  • Did a trusted organization issue the credential?
  • Has the credential expired?
  • Has the credential been revoked, voided, or tampered?

Step 2. Ensure the individual that the credential was issued to is the same individual that is presenting it:

  • Do the photo and attributes on the credential match the person who presented it?
  • Does the person know the PIN for the credential?
  • Does the person have the private key on the smart card for the certificate presented to a website?


Authorization is how you decide whether you should allow someone to access an agency resource. Access requirements usually dictate whether you’ll allow someone to:

  • Read or modify a certain document.
  • Access an agency website.
  • Enter an agency facility or location.

Usually, authorization occurs immediately after authentication. When you log in to a service, you present your credentials and the service confirms your credentials are valid (authentication) and grants or denies you access based on your assigned permissions (authorization).

Authorizations are based on four models:

  • Access Control Lists (ACLs)
  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
  • Policy-Based Access Control (PBAC)
  • Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC)

Each of these authorization models has benefits and limitations. The policies and access requirements defined by agency business owners help inform the model used to best suit their needs. More robust access control models, such as ABAC, can help agencies with improved automation and are increasingly adopted by cloud-native and cloud-friendly services.

Identity proofing is how you establish an identity. Authentication is how you confirm the identity. Authorization is how you use the identity.

Access Management Services

The Access Management services in the federal ICAM architecture include Policy Administration, Entitlements Management, Authentication, Authorization, and Privileged Access Management.

A blue box with the Access Management service definitions, which are listed in the following body text.

Digital Policy Administration

Create and maintain the technical access requirements that govern access to protected agency services.

Keywords: Policy Decision, Policy Enforcement


Verify that a claimed identity is genuine based on valid credentials.

Keywords: Validation, Two-Factor, Multi-Factor


Grant or deny access requests to protected agency services based on access requirements, identity attributes, and entitlements.

Keywords: Policy Decision, Policy Enforcement

Privileged Access Management

Protect access to accounts that have access permissions that can affect IT system configurations and data security (e.g., superusers, domain administrators, or global administrators).

Keywords: Privileged Identity Management, Privileged Account Management, Administration, Superuser

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