The government has invited tenders for "identity verification and authentication services", in an attempt to assess the public sector's need for something that will confirm a user's identity.
The call has come on behalf of all UK public bodies, represented by Directgov, and it says, "The UK public sector is looking for information on the availability of all types of multichannel services that customers might use to provide satisfactory assurance of identity when interacting with public services."
It follows the coalition government's announcement shortly after this year's election that ID cards would be scrapped.
The government says it wants feedback on what's available, adding that the quantity of any eventual purchase will depend on what it discovers via the tender process.
Government departments and councils will have the option to use different aspects of the technology Directgov selects, and it said it would consider establishing a scheme to accredit different systems.
Directgov wants any organisations interested in developing iniatives to contact them and request a "high-level background document" which sets out the UK public sector's current thinking.