Since the launch of the Boston Computer Exchange in 1982, the world has been headed towards an age of online shopping and self service. Now, 40 years later, through Amazon, Instacart, Doordash, even at McDonald’s Kiosks; the ability to receive goods and services without interacting with a human being has become more and more commonplace. The COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated this trend in online access to government services. 


Yet, in this ever growing digital world, we remember that we are analog beings, and that many are not yet comfortable with technology; in particular the most vulnerable. Federal CIO Clare Martorana’s letter on DX guidance, the last tenet is: “Interact with government in a way that works best for you.”; an acknowledgement that an effective digital experience must work in concert with traditional channels of service delivery. Equating going digital with online self service risks exacerbating the digital divide between those that have and those that have not. We must ensure we are keeping in mind desired outcomes over desired technical solutions.


Team MO has embraced this philosophy and is leading the charge on providing respite to Veterans who seek an alternative to a friction filled online identity verification experience. In the fall of 2022, our team performed  discovery work to better understand how to drive adoption of safer, more secure sign-in services for Veterans accessing online at There are over 2.7 million Veterans that access with legacy accounts and would need to migrate.


In this discovery sprint we spoke to 37 Veterans, in-person, as well as dozens of stakeholders and VA employees involved in identity verification for Veterans. These experts at VA warned that mandatory, unsupported migration will leave Veterans behind.


“Any change to login credentials and proofing requirements means some Veterans will lose access—we need to solve for the hardest to reach Veterans (rural, homebound, or unwilling to alter their digital practices), and expect serving them will require special accommodations and additional resources”


With this charge, Team MO is establishing compliant, in-person identity verification channels for Veterans. As part of this endeavor, our team led an in-person workshop discussing in-person proofing with NIST and Our goal in the workshop was to understand how might we pair VA leverage it’s intimacy with Veterans (as an authoritative source of Veteran identity, issuer of Veteran Health ID cards) with the NIST digital identity guidelines to envision an in-person proofing solution that is complementary and can be universally used across federal agencies to online identity verification services. 


“An estimated 60% of those who seek help with in-person proofing have tried to proof online first. The current systems <are> proving unusable for a wide variety of people, not just the elderly or those unfamiliar with technology.”


Veterans do not wake up wanting to verify their identity, it is a necessary step to accessing the benefits they are due. Our vision for in-person proofing is to meet Veterans in moments that matter, when they are already coming to a hospital to receive healthcare, when they are going to a VSO to get help with a benefit application. In fact, why does the Veteran need to leave their home? How might we enable caregivers, who are amongst those that know a Veteran the best, to assert the Veteran’s identity? 


Our team is currently developing an in-person proofing application that will integrate with VA’s modern credentials enabling a Veteran to register for in-person proofing. We are also developing an application to aid proofing agents to provide a seamless and compliant identity verification experiences for Veterans when they arrive at the facility; giving Veterans peace of mind that they are well on their way to receiving their benefits.


Other federal agencies, not just VA, face similar challenges with online identity verification. Our team has designed this service to be extensible to meet multiple use cases and reused across multiple agencies and service providers. In fact, it need not be “in-person” at all; it could apply to video call-enabled identity verification.


In a world driven towards online self-service, our team’s charge is that no one is left behind by providing an attended experience for those that desire. Learn more in our previous article on identity.