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NIH Federated Identity Service

What is NIH Federated Identity?

Federated Identity provides NIH staff with the means to collaborate with colleagues from outside NIH, including those from universities, other Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Operating Divisions (OPDIVs), and other federal agencies. Unlike current access methods, under Federation, outside collaborators who are authorized by NIH research, grants or administrative groups can use their credentials from their own organization.The Federated Identity service is enabled through the use of open industry standards and/or openly published specifications.

Role of InCommon

NIH has partnered with the InCommon Federation as an Identity Credential Provider. InCommon uses SAML-based authentication and authorization systems (such as Shibboleth®) to enable scalable, trusted collaborations among its community of participants. InCommon provides a list of participants. NIH, as of November 2008, has active participation nearly 20 universities/colleges that are members of InCommon. Learn how to join.

Getting Started

If you have questions or if you wish to inquire about participation in NIH's Federation Collaboration, please email

FAQs & Help

How do the NIH External Directory and NIH Federated Identity work together? 

The NIH External Directory is where a separate account is created for each outside NIH collaborator.  This option (NIH External account creation) for collaboration is short-term until the collaborator’s institution/university/college has integrated their directory with NIH’s Federated Identity solution.


The NIH Enterprise Artchitecture website has addtional information on the
Federated Identity Authentication/Authorization brick. Look under the "Related Links" for additional documents including "NIHRFC0028, NIH Federated Identity Bricks and Patterns."

Some additional useful documentation:

For additional information on Federated Identity at NIH, please email

For Technical help please contact:
301-496-4357 (6-HELP) (local)
866-319-4357 (toll free)
301-496-8294 (TTY)


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This page last reviewed: November 09, 2011