Monday, 31 December 2012

OBITUARY: Whitehall 1947-2012

Some emperors driven mad by absolute power appoint their horse a senator.
While others create ERG.

This time last year Sir-Gus-now-Lord O'Donnell was still Cabinet Secretary, permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office and head of the home civil service. He stood down on 31 December 2011.

The month before, Sir Richard Mottram had published an article in Public Servant magazine, Whitehall shake-up – not all good news.

Sir Richard mentioned a number of the abiding problems faced by Whitehall, problems which existed when Sir Gus took over and which had still not been solved six years later. Among others, how do you govern Whitehall? The big central government departments look like independent satrapies. Silo government. Who, if anyone, is in charge? According to Sir Richard:
... the coalition government has given increasing priority to improving the efficiency of the civil service and the wider public service under a Cabinet Office group ...

Sunday, 30 December 2012

The gentleman in Whitehall really does know better what is good for people than the people know themselves

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills want all consumers to store their personal data on the web so that they will be empowered.

The Department for Work and Pensions want 21 million claimants to store all their personal data on the web so that they can register for and claim Universal Credit.

The Government Digital Service want everyone to store their personal data on the web so that public services can become digital-by-default.

HMRC want to store all their local office records on the web so that they can save money.

Good idea?

midata – dumb marketing

Do you feel resentful? Permanently? About everything?

Are you susceptible to blatant mercenary manipulation?

Are you a helpless consumer? You see it and you have to buy it?

Friday, 28 December 2012

Jo Swinson and Randi Zuckerberg – accelerating towards a digital meltdown

Mark Zuckerberg is the founder of Facebook. His sister Randi works in the marketing department. She used Facebook to circulate a family photograph to her friends. She was shocked to discover that the photograph was promptly published for all and sundry to see. The story is covered by Forbes magazine, 26 December 2012 @ 8:52 a.m., 904,546 views at the time of writing:
Oops. Mark Zuckerberg's Sister Has A Private Facebook Photo Go Public.

Being a member of the Facebook founder’s family won’t protect you from having your privacy breached on the social network. On Tuesday night, Randi Zuckerberg — older sister to Facebook’s CEO — posted a photo from a family gathering to Facebook (of course), showing her sisters using Facebook’s new Snapchat-esque ’Poke’ app on their phones, with Mark Zuckerberg watching with a confused look on his face. It popped up on the Facebook newsfeed of mediaite Callie Schweitzer who subscribes to Zuckerberg. Assuming the photo was a public one, Schweitzer tweeted it to her nearly 40,000 Twitter followers. Zuckerberg was not pleased.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Cloud computing supplier raises doubts about cloud computing suppliers – "suicidal mission with no exit"

It should be made clear that Mr Peter Dawes-Huish, the chief executive officer of LinuxIT, is in favour of cloud computing. "G-Cloud is a great opportunity for government", he is quoted as saying in computing.co.uk.

This has provoked fury in the Twittersphere where Chris Haslam has re-Tweeted Mark_Anthony's scorn: "RT @Mark_Antony: Worst article on the @G_Cloud_UK I have ever had the misfortune to read: http://bit.ly/XzwKw0  - shameful drivel...”".

The shameful drivel Mr Dawes-Huish is guilty of uttering is presumably where he described G-Cloud as a military mission "with an entry route and no exit route" that is "not just dangerous, but suicide".

G-Cloud, of course, is the government cloud, a military mission in the safe hands of the Cabinet Office and the Government Procurement Service (GPS). GPS, if you remember, are the people whose procurement service broke down because it didn't have enough space to store the tenders submitted by prospective suppliers in response to GPS's invitation.

Monday, 17 December 2012

GDS deal death blow to midata

The Government Digital Service (GDS) are currently re-writing all central government websites and moving them to https://www.gov.uk (GOV.UK).

No-one knows why.

Just because the exercise is pointless doesn't mean that it has no effect.

Friday, 14 December 2012

GDS misbriefing

The invitation to tender for the Government Digital Service (GDS) market research contract with IFF Research Ltd includes this picture of the "new identity assurance model":
The document was created on 8 November 2012, according to its Microsoft Word properties, and was last modified on 12 November 2012. Next day, 13 November 2012, the names of the UK's appointed identity providers (the electronic Mary Poppinses) were announced. Halifax weren't on the list. Neither were Lambeth and Visa. Nor Lloyds and Equifax.

Which means that GDS briefed the prospective suppliers wrongly in their invitation to tender.

Jo Swinson on midata – How and Which?

Ms Swinson can plead ignorance. Which? can't.

Writing successful publicity material is hard. Quite beyond DMossesq. And, it seems, Jo Swinson, minister of state at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). Here she is, trying to write with unfeigned enthusiasm about midata:
Recently I was chatting to the owner of an independent bookshop, who told me animatedly about his Christmas recommendations. In particular which ones I might enjoy most given what other books I had recently read and loved.

How great, I thought, to have that personal, tailored advice, and wouldn’t it be great if I could get that everywhere else?
That gem appears on the blog run by Which? magazine and you can see why the consumer champion Which? wants a disclaimer at the bottom of Ms Swinson's post:
Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Jo Swinson MP. All opinions expressed here are Jo’s own, not necessarily those of Which?
The benefits of midata that Ms Swinson manages to name are all available already without midata and have been for decades – BIS's initiative is otiose. The other benefits are vague, unnamed and hypothetical – unreliable, in other words, dubious marketing.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

GDS's identity assurance story continues to unravel

The Potential Provider shall complete Phase 1 by 31 December 2012
DWP, the Department for Work and Pensions, is by far the biggest spender in government, having clocked up £242.3 billion in 2011-12, see HM Treasury's Public Spending Statistics July 2012 (p.53), including £93 billion on pensions.

On 1 March 2012 GDS, the Government Digital Service, wrote: "Today the cross-Government Identity Assurance programme sanctioned DWP to publish a tender to procure Identity services for all of Government", see Identity: One small step for all of Government.

Sanctioned?

Monday, 10 December 2012

Universal Credit – GDS's part in its downfall

The importance of IDAP
If public services are to become digital-by-default the Government Digital Service (GDS) need to deliver on identity assurance.

It's their responsibility:
  • Ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken, the Chief Executive of GDS, is also the senior responsible officer owner for Her Majesty's Government's Identity Assurance Programme (IDAP).
  • GDS acknowledge an IDAP project on their blog.
  • And they said on 1 March 2012 that they want to ensure that "... ultimately, HMG-wide Identity Assurance is supplied across central departments via a common procurement portal ... and governed by the Cabinet Office [i.e. by GDS]".
And without IDAP, they say, people who want to use public services will not be able to assert their identities on-line and there will be no digital-by-default:
  • Francis Maude, Cabinet Office Minister, talking about digital-by-default on 6 March 2012: "... for all this to work users of digital public services need to be able to assert their identities safely, securely and simply".
How's it going? What progress is there on IDAP?

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The savings to be expected from digital-by-default – a clarification

You thought you knew what savings are?
You thought you knew the point of digital-by-default?

Francis Maude said in his Foreword to the Government Digital Strategy that: "By going digital by default, the government could save between £1.7 and £1.8 billion each year ...".

Then in yesterday's Autumn Statement ("AS2012") the Chancellor said: "The recently published Digital Efficiency Report sets out how departments could save approximately £1.2 billion over the remainder of the current spending review period by continuing to move their transactional services online and become ‘digital by default’ ...".

So which is it? 1.2, 1.7 or 1.8? And are we talking about annual figures or the cumulative total over a period of years?

Time for some clarification.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Ooh, wow! GDS and The Interpretation of Tweets (Die Tweetdeutung)

What an awful job IDAP is.
No wonder the subject wishes he were somewhere –
or someone –
else.

Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams (Die Tramdeutung) in 1900 and laid bare for all to see the precise workings of the psyche.

What would Freud have made of tweets? If only he had written it, what secrets of public administration would have been revealed by Die Tweetdeutung?

No need to guess, here are the answers.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Alan Travis – Whitehall, the Guardian newspaper and Lord Leveson

The 25 April 2012 L Notice issued by the Cabinet Office complains about an article in the Guardian newspaper published the day before. A little detective work reveals that the article they are talking about is Government revives plan for greater data-sharing between agencies by Alan Travis, home affairs editor.

That article refers to a "recent speech" made by Francis Maude, Cabinet Office Minister. Neither the Guardian nor the Cabinet Office identifies the speech. A little detective work suggests that it is Mr Maude's keynote speech given to the Information Commissioner's Conference on 6 March 2012. That, at least, is the assumption on which we proceed here.

If the Leveson Rules are to look like anything more than the whimsical exercise of power by the Executive then perhaps we could see a few guidelines on identifying the evidence in disputes more precisely.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Francis Maude – Whitehall, the Guardian newspaper and Lord Leveson

The accusation against the Guardian is that it misrepresented Whitehall's policy on digital public services. Explanations later, but let's get straight to the nub of the matter now – Francis Maude says in the Cabinet Office L notice:
This is not a question of increasing the volume of data-sharing that takes place across government, but ensuring an appropriate framework is in place so that government can deliver more effective, joined-up and personalised public services, through effective data-linking.
Even to a reader who knows nothing about Cabinet Office frameworks for appropriately effective, joined-up and personalised digital public services, it should be clear that the Guardian allegedly wrongly described data-linking as "data-sharing".

If the distinction eludes you, you'll just have to take Francis Maude's word for it that data-linking is Whitehall policy and a good thing, whereas data-sharing is a disgraceful slur on him personally and a bad thing, and the two should never be confused by any newspaper hoping to hold on to its publication licence.

Introduction – Whitehall, the Guardian newspaper and Lord Leveson

It is our intention in this report of our findings on the affaire Guardian to follow the example of the Guardian themselves. Now rehabilitated after their contretemps with the Leveson Rules, following some months of intensive re-education, they say of Lord Leveson's report that:
The press should treat it with respect – and not a little humility.
There speaks the voice of a truly free press. We humbly and respectfully agree.

That is the principle but what about the practice? What does it mean to report with respectful humility? How do you do it?

Whitehall, the Guardian newspaper and Lord Leveson – darkness at noon

On 25 April 2012 the Cabinet Office issued what we might take to be a sample L Notice, a rebuke of the press issued under the Leveson Rules:
Digital public services: putting the citizen in charge, not the state

25 April 2012

On its front page on 24 April, the Guardian ran an article on government data sharing plans which misrepresented statements the Government has made concerning existing data sharing arrangements.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude today made a statement in response, pointing to the Government’s commitment to putting the citizen in charge, not the state ...
It would be extraordinary if the Guardian newspaper, of all newspapers, were to be the victim – and the first victim at that – of the movement for probity and compassion in the press which marches with Lord Leveson at its head.

Extraordinary because the Guardian, after all, is a centre of excellence in world journalism, with its measured and impeccably high-minded comments always supported by the responsible and dispassionate reports on world events with which its journalists fill the pages of the newspaper.

If even they, even the Guardian, can misreport Cabinet Office policy so culpably as to be issued with an L Notice, then veritably we have seen darkness at noon.

The important word there is "if". Can it be true? Did the Guardian fall from grace? Or is it just possible that actually the newspaper reported the Cabinet Office's plans to "put the citizen in charge" correctly?

This matter calls for minute investigation ...

Friday, 30 November 2012

midata – the false prospectus. Every time you look, you see another mendacious argument

There is a peril in conflating the concepts of open data and personal data

Sometimes you sit down to write a post and you get to work on it, only to find that someone else has done it first – and what's more, in 22 words flat.
How Midata will affect business and consumers

Kathleen Hall
Tuesday 20 November 2012 12:47

As the government pushes private companies to release customer data under its Midata initiative, Computer Weekly looks at what this means for the digital economy and who stands to benefit most from this new form of "consumer empowerment".

The government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has singled out energy companies, mobile phone firms, banks and payment companies as key organisations that should release customer data to allow consumers to make more informed decisions under its Midata initiative ...
Ms Hall goes on to describe how midata will force suppliers who already provide us with a record of our transactions to provide us with a record of our transactions.

She introduces the reader to Professor Nigel Shadbolt, co-director with Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee of the Open Data Institute (ODI). He believes that there is money to be made by people writing apps to process personal data and help them to make better decisions.

She interviews Nick Pickles, the director of Big Brother Watch, who has reservations about midata.

And she interviews Owen Boswarva:
Owen Boswarva, open data activist, warned there is a danger of consumers being blasé about their information being passed on to third parties. He said the potential risks were in danger of being de-emphasised.

“On the face of it, this is presented as being an unalloyed good thing, and you can’t argue with having more access to data. But it will depend on the checks and balances in how this is implemented,” he said.

Boswarva said he would like to see additional processes built in to ensure data is handled properly.

“There is a peril in conflating the concepts of open data and personal data, which I feel the government may be doing,” he said.

(Boswarva links added by DMossEsq,
not in Computer Weekly article)
And there it is. In 22 words. Admirable conciseness: "There is a peril in conflating the concepts of open data and personal data, which I feel the government may be doing". That's all that needs to be said.

Glutton for punishment?

Here's the DMossEsq 1,000-word version.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

HMRC, Skyscape and a 2nd response from Phil Pavitt

G-Cloud, GDS, HMRC and Skyscape, the company with just one director, who owns all the shares – Whitehall SNAFU
Open letter to Lin Homer, Chief Executive, HMRC, asking about the wisdom of entrusting their data (our data) to the cloud with Skyscape Cloud Services Ltd.
Response from Phil Pavitt, Director General Change, Security and Information, HMRC, on behalf of Lin Homer.
Open letter to Phil Pavitt.
28 November 2012
Response dated 26 November 2012 from Phil Pavitt, please see below:
HMRC and Skyscape Cloud Services Ltd

Dear Mr Moss

Thank you for your letter of 24 October 2012 expressing your concerns in respect of Skyscape Cloud Services Ltd suitability to host HMRC data. I apologise for the delay in responding to you.

Further to my reply of 22 October, I wanted to provide you with some more information to alleviate your concerns. I must reiterate our assurance that using Skyscape HMRC data will continue to be kept in accordance with existing legislation and HMRC security policies.

When fully operational, Skyscape Cloud Services Ltd will securely host all HMRC data currently held on office File and Print Servers (FAPS). FAPS support the work of many HMRC offices and hold data for a wide range business purposes e.g. administrative and customer related. FAPS do not hold the definitive tax records for the UK and these records remain distributed across a number of secure systems.

HMRC routinely risk assesses and tests the security of our solutions and services. Our secure connection to Skyscape will be delivered in line with HM Government standards to protect our data, with ongoing assurance checks throughout the life of this service.

As emphasised in my letter of 24 October, in order to deliver through G-Cloud, Skyscape were required to meet a set of mandatory criteria set out by Government Procurement Services (GPS) including financial standing and Experian risk assessments. Additionally, HMRC carried out its own standard taxation and financial compliance checks before awarding the contract and Skyscape passed the standards set by HMRC and Government.

All G Cloud contracts are let on a one year basis, with exit provisions agreed to transfer the data to a new supplier should this prove necessary.

Data security remains integral to HMRC and a pre-requisite of any of our data being migrated to Skyscape is for their solution, including all the constituent parts, to be formally accredited by CESG (the Communications-Electronics Security Group) to Impact Level 3 (IL3). All security aspects of the service will have to be proven in line with HM Government security standards. This will include the need to ensure the ‘cloud’ is hosted in a UK domiciled, secure data centre(s) and operated by staff with appropriate security clearance. We are also carrying out internal accreditations including Internal Risk Management and Accreditation Document Set (RMADS) and PSN risk assessments.

I trust that this answers your concerns and you are able to appreciate our decision to contract with Skyscape.

Yours sincerely

Regards

Phil Pavitt
HMRC Director General Change, Security and Information

Monday, 26 November 2012

HMRC soon to be Pavittless

Computer Weekly, 22 November 2012:
Phil Pavitt has stepped down as HMRC’s CIO to join insurance giant Aviva as global director of IT transformation ...

Under his role at Aviva Pavitt will be tasked with simplifying the firm’s IT services, and modernising and digitising its business.
DMossEsq readers have met Mr Pavitt a couple of times.

Identity assurance – one under the eight

On 13 November 2012 the Department for Work and pensions (DWP) announced the appointment of seven so-called "identity providers" for the new digital-by-default UK – the Post Office, Cassidian, Digidentity, Experian, Ingeus, Mydex, and Verizon.

We were previously led to believe that the announcement would be made on 22 October 2012. And before that we were supposed to have the news by 30 September 2012.

Publication slipped. And we still don't know who the eighth "identity provider" will be.

Two things we do know:

Thursday, 22 November 2012

midata – nudging you into an interactive flashbased graph

There's so much wrong with midata, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills initiative to "empower" all us consumers, that you may forget the delightful loopiness of its proposed benefits:
If organisations try to share customer data with each other they invade individuals’ privacy and risk breaching the Data Protection Act. The result is duplication, waste and missed opportunities ...

Tallyzoo, a service dedicated to self monitoring, allows users to measure anything from their caffeine intake to the number of times they cut their grass. Users collect data using a mobile device or website program which creates interactive flashbased graphs enabling them to spot trends and patterns in their consumption habits, work, health and fitness goals. Data is manipulated so that users can share statistics and compare the end results ...

Access to such data represents a ‘holy grail’ data to companies because it explains why people do what they do and predicts what they are going to do next.
Silly old privacy laws. They just get in the way. They're synonymous with waste and duplication. They stand in the way of interactive flashbased  graphs of our coffee consumption and lawn-mowing. With midata choice engines we'll be able to predict the future and control it.

Which mooncalf would fall for this unlikely sales pitch? Cui bono?

midata and identity assurance – BIS and DWP lure the British public into danger

Hat tip: Dave Birch

Questions have been raised about the advisability of creating population registers on the web.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) have an initiative called "midata" which would require us to enrol in identity registers in the cloud, please see for example Cybersecurity – good news at last, from midata.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have an initiative called "Universal Credit" which would require us to ditto, please see for example Identity assurance – convenient? It'll make your life so much easier.

The objections to subscribing to on-line population registers are manifold and include the dangers of cybercrime.

What dangers of cybercrime?

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

midata, consumption patterns and choice engines – the natural habitat of the stupid

People are forever ringing DMossEsq asking what is the key selling point of midata.

Here, once and for all, is the definitive answer.

Open the Impact Assessment for midata, turn to p.3 and read – it's all in there:
What are the policy objectives and the intended effects?
Giving consumers access to their transaction data will enable consumers to make better informed decisions and choose products which offer them the best value. This in turn will reward firms offering the best value because they will be able to win more customers, increasing competition and leading to lower prices, improved efficiency and greater innovation. It will allow consumers to analyse and then improve their consumption patterns, particularly by enabling third party ‘choice engines’ to process transactional data on behalf of consumers and advise them on their consumption habits and potential switching options. We expect the release of information to stimulate innovation in and expansion of third party choice engines.
"Choice engines". What a phrase. Who won the office sweepstake last week for that one?*

Identity assurance – convenient? It'll make your life so much easier

Have DWP and GDS taken leave of their senses
suggesting that we should trust unknown third parties
with our user IDs and passwords?
Yes.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) identity assurance press release the other day naming seven of the UK's "identity providers" (IDPs) was commendably short. Every word counted:
13 November 2012 – Providers announced for online identity scheme

The Post Office, Cassidian, Digidentity, Experian, Ingeus, Mydex, and Verizon are the successful providers chosen to design and deliver a secure online identity registration service for the Department for Work and Pensions.

The identity registration service will enable benefit claimants to choose who will validate their identity by automatically checking their authenticity with the provider before processing online benefit claims.

The Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said:
"We are working with cyber security experts to ensure we are clear about the threats to the online process and we are confident that the providers announced today will offer an effective, safe and free to use identity service for future online benefit claims."
As well as offering a safe and secure system, providers will be required to offer a simplified registration process, minimise the number of usernames and passwords a customer will need to remember and reduce the costs incurred across Government for the management of Identity Assurance.

The online Identity Assurance model will be incorporated into Universal Credit as it’s developed and rolled-out. Over time Identity Assurance will become available to all UK citizens who need to access online public services.
"... providers will be required to ... minimise the number of usernames and passwords a customer will need to remember ..." – what's that all about?

Cybersecurity – good news at last, from midata

Cybercrime
The magnificent power of the web is a double-edged sword. It makes it easy for us all to do our banking on-line. And it makes it easy for cybercriminals to defraud us. Huge brains are working on the side of law-abiding web users and they're holding the line. Thanks to them, fraud is held down, just, to acceptable levels. That could change. Huge brains are working on committing fraud and if they make any serious progress, eBanking and eCommerce in general could have to stop – there is no law of nature that says that eCommerce must be feasible. The web is a dangerous place to do business.

midata
Nevertheless, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) want to "empower" consumers by getting us all to store all our transactions on-line, on the web, in the cloud, on the servers of unknown so-called "trusted" third parties or their sub-contractors. Is that a good idea? Given the incidence of cybercrime, aren't BIS behaving irresponsibly? With midata, they're inciting their parishioners to take serious and unnecessary risks. They're trying to take powers to force banks, phone companies, energy companies, retailers and others to put all our transaction data on the web.

"Oi, you two, Tesco, Sainsbury's, get over 'ere",
BIS are effectively saying,
pointing at the flames,
"and bring the petrol".

Monday, 19 November 2012

PRESS RELEASE: midata – time for BIS to answer the questions


PRESS RELEASE


To:

Home Office

OIG (re US-VISIT)

IDABC (re OSCIE)
China (re Golden Shield)
Pakistan (re NADRA)
FBI (re NGI)
UIDAI (re Aadhaar)
Agencies
midata – time for BIS to answer the questions
19 November 2012
When midata was announced a year ago Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s Technology Correspondent, asked “what's the catch for consumers and why is the government getting involved”? Good questions.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Cutting costs/making savings, and GDS's fantasy strategy

For some time now, the Government Digital Service (GDS) have made the meaning of their digital-by-default agenda clear – they want the UK to be like Estonia.

It is thanks to the fact that practically every service in Estonia is delivered over the web that, back in 2007, Russia was able to bring the country to its knees in a matter of days. If GDS succeed with their "modernisation" plans, there will be nothing to stop that happening here in the UK.

GDS are in awe of the financial success and popularity of Apple, Amazon, eBay/PayPal, Google and Facebook. With no experience of government behind them, the over-promoted software engineers at the head of GDS want to bring their heroes' tricks to the delivery of public services in the UK.

Sensible people will see Facebook et al as latter-day Pied Pipers of Hamelin – sensible people, including the tens of thousands of public servants who will be laid off and replaced by GDS's computers when government is, as they say, "transformed".

Many of these organisations are famous for avoiding tax on their UK profits and for using their near-monopolies to tyrannise their suppliers and to milk their customers. But GDS somehow maintain their naïve veneration and on 6 November 2012 they published their Government Digital Strategy.

This fantasy strategy is an elaboration of Martha Lane Fox's ideas, set out in her October 2010 letter to Francis Maude, Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution. Ms Lane Fox is the Prime Minister's digital champion, she's a historian, and when she says "revolution" she means it.

Her revolutionary fervour is carried over into last week's GDS strategy, which Sir Bob Kerslake – head of the home civil service, permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and previously the chief executive of first the London Borough of Hounslow and then Sheffield City Council – has greeted with a post on GDS's blog, Welcoming the Digital Strategy:
Our reform plan also made a clear commitment to improve the quality of the government’s digital services, and to do this by publishing a Government Digital Strategy setting out how we would support the transformation of digital services [how does publishing a wishlist improve the quality of public services?].

We fulfilled that commitment yesterday with the launch of the Government Digital Strategy, Digital Efficiency Report and Digital Landscape Report and I very much welcome their publication.
But why? Why does Sir Bob "welcome" this emmental cheese of a strategy? It's full of holes. Consider cutting costs/making savings for example.

Identity assurance and midata – two new ideas for a grateful public to get used to

Mydex and the Post Office – the instant cartel,
just add money to taste

The UK was lucky enough last week to have seven "identity providers" (IDPs) appointed, one of which is the Post Office. One man who worked on the Post Office's bid is Toby Stevens. Writing about how he moved from being anti-ID cards to being pro-identity assurance (IDA) he says, among other things:
How I learned to stop worrying and love identity assurance
... The IDA programme differs from its predecessors in many ways, in that public bodies can't be Identity Providers (IDPs) - IDPs will be exclusively private sector ...
New idea #1 – the Post Office is not a public body.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Every blogger's dream comment

The following anonymous comment was received by email, 14.11.12@11:35. Paragraph numbers have been added for ease of reference:
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Cloud computing, and GDS's fantasy strategy":

1. I've been following your blogs with interest, and whilst I agree with some of your points, particularly early on, you now seem to be ratcheting up the rhetoric a bit, without really doing any research on what you're talking about.

2. For example, regarding Larry Ellison, that quote was from 2008; in the last four years, he seems to have changed tack slightly:
http://dawn.com/2012/10/03/oracles-ellison-focused-on-cloud-not-deals/

3. Taking lawyers and the cloud, the following sites would tend to show that at least some firms are making use of cloud services, and they don't seem to have gone out of business:
http://www.lawcloud.co.uk/case-studies
http://www.inksters.com/lawinthecloud.aspx

4. You also miss the main point about "Utility Computing" - the benefits that organisations can realise from being able to pick and choose (on a month-by-month basis, if necessary) from a range of suppliers, is a big advantage compared to legacy, multi-year contracts.

5. Regarding gas/electricity prices in the UK, technically you are free to move supplier as and when you want, to gain better pricing or service, just as you do with utility computing. The fact that utility prices are increasing and appear "fixed" is more of a comment on the energy utility market, than the "utility" concept in general.

6. Compare this to "legacy computing", where you are tied into long-term contracts with horrendous break clauses.
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/12/...
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/31/it_waste_pac/
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/09/20/...
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/08/25/government_raytheon_court/

7. You mention about "somebody" having to pay for the overhead involved in cloud services... well, no. The whole point of the cloud is you pay for what you use - and if you don't like the price, you go somewhere else. Yes, the company has to make a profit, but then so does any supplier - unless you're suggesting that Govt in-sources its IT?

8. Regarding loss of control in the cloud, not really, no. As always within Govt IT, ultimately the risk assessment lies with the Department, not the procurement framework. So, when GDS chose to use Skyscape, they would have been responsible for managing the risk assessment for using that provider - and will be accountable if things go wrong. Ditto HMRC with their data.

9. Moving services to the cloud doesn't remove departments responsibility - if anything, it makes you think harder about it, whereas before, when the contract went to a major SI, the track was trying to outsource your risk as well - and then you get into the horrible contractual messes like those shown above.

10. And whilst I'm not going to defend Amazon (or the rest) on their tax record, in terms of investment into its services, Amazon is better than most - check out it's most recent quarter's results - it reinvests a lot of its profits in further developing its range of services.
https://www.google.co.uk/finance?...

11. Finally, I presume that you're comfortable using the cloud yourself, since you seem to be hosting your blog on Blogger, which is Google's SaaS blogging service. Why didn't you buy your own web server, install and configure it with Wordpress, and run it yourself from a UK datacentre? My guess is because Blogger is i) cheap, ii) easy, and iii) more secure than an individual's setup would ever be - and if you ever want to move it, there's no 5-year contract binding you, with lots of termination clauses or penalty payments.
DMossEsq looks forward to posting a reply, followed by further debate.

At 3,662 characters, the comment appears to be too long for Blogger to display. Which is all that needs to be said in answer to the 14.11.12@12:53 email:
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Cloud computing, and GDS's fantasy strategy":

Strange... pretty sure I posted a fairly detailed comment an hour or so ago, and now it's disappeared...?
Care to comment, DMossEsq?

Pass the sickbag



C.f.

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2.1.13 – for some reason, the video on the link above has been marked private and can no longer be viewed by ordinary members of the public. Luckily, there's another copy here.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Identity providers – the electronic Mary Poppinses

At last, everyone will have their own nanny ...
... with absolutely no interference from the state

To no fanfare at all, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) today named in a press release seven of the eight organisations selected to be the UK's first "identity providers".

The eighth organisation is presumably having second thoughts. As well they might.

The seven named winners are the Post Office, Cassidian, Digidentity, Experian, Ingeus, Mydex and Verizon.

This is all to do with identity assurance, without which nothing in the digital-by-default universe works.

Your identity will be provided henceforth by Digidentity (a Dutch PKI company – public key infrastructure), Ingeus (dedicated to getting the unemployed into work), Verizon (a US mobile phone network with no known presence in the UK), the Post Office, and/or three organisations you may dimly recall having heard of.

How did DWP come up with that list?

They didn't.

Cloud computing, and GDS's fantasy strategy

For some time now, the Government Digital Service (GDS) have made the meaning of their digital-by-default agenda clear – they want the UK to be like Estonia.

It is thanks to the fact that practically every service in Estonia is delivered over the web that, back in 2007, Russia was able to bring the country to its knees in a matter of days. If GDS succeed with their "modernisation" plans, there will be nothing to stop that happening here in the UK.

GDS are in awe of the financial success and popularity of Apple, Amazon, eBay/PayPal, Google and Facebook. With no experience of government behind them, the over-promoted software engineers at the head of GDS want to bring their heroes' tricks to the delivery of public services in the UK.

Sensible people will see Facebook et al as latter-day Pied Pipers of Hamelin – sensible people, including the tens of thousands of public servants who will be laid off and replaced by GDS's computers when government is, as they say, "transformed".

Many of these organisations are famous for avoiding tax on their UK profits and for using their near-monopolies to tyrannise their suppliers and to milk their customers. But GDS somehow maintain their naïve veneration and on 6 November 2012 they published their Government Digital Strategy.

This fantasy strategy is an elaboration of Martha Lane Fox's ideas, set out in her October 2010 letter to Francis Maude, Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution. Ms Lane Fox is the Prime Minister's digital champion, she's a historian, and when she says "revolution" she means it.

Her revolutionary fervour is carried over into last week's GDS strategy, which Sir Bob Kerslake – head of the home civil service, permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and previously the chief executive of first the London Borough of Hounslow and then Sheffield City Council – has greeted with a post on GDS's blog, Welcoming the Digital Strategy:
Our reform plan also made a clear commitment to improve the quality of the government’s digital services, and to do this by publishing a Government Digital Strategy setting out how we would support the transformation of digital services [how does publishing a wishlist improve the quality of public services?].

We fulfilled that commitment yesterday with the launch of the Government Digital Strategy, Digital Efficiency Report and Digital Landscape Report and I very much welcome their publication.
But why? Why does Sir Bob "welcome" this emmental cheese of a strategy? It's full of holes. Consider cloud computing for example.

The UK's identity providers

DWP press release:

13 November 2012 – Providers announced for online identity scheme

The Post Office, Cassidian, Digidentity, Experian, Ingeus, Mydex, and Verizon are the successful providers chosen to design and deliver a secure online identity registration service for the Department for Work and Pensions.
The identity registration service will enable benefit claimants to choose who will validate their identity by automatically checking their authenticity with the provider before processing online benefit claims.
The Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said:
"We are working with cyber security experts to ensure we are clear about the threats to the online process and we are confident that the providers announced today will offer an effective, safe and free to use identity service for future online benefit claims."
As well as offering a safe and secure system, providers will be required to offer a simplified registration process, minimise the number of usernames and passwords a customer will need to remember and reduce the costs incurred across Government for the management of Identity Assurance.
The online Identity Assurance model will be incorporated into Universal Credit as it’s developed and rolled-out. Over time Identity Assurance will become available to all UK citizens who need to access online public services.

Notes to Editors:

  1. On 28 February 2012, the DWP issued an Official Journal European (OJEU) advertisement to provide identity assurance services for Universal Credit customers.
  2. In May 2012 DWP issued an invitation to tender to 44 suppliers.
  3. The value of the 18-month framework contracts is £25m.
  4. The Identity Assurance programme is a Government-wide initiative led by the Cabinet Office which will in time be available to all UK citizens who need to access online public services.
  5. Universal Credit will be the first programme to use the cross-government Identity Assurance solution.
  6. Universal Credit, which will go live nationally in October 2013, replaces the current complicated paper based benefits payment system we have now with a new online application that meets the needs of claimants and employers in today’s digital world.
  7. One further provider is expected to sign up in the next few weeks – completing the eight chosen to design and deliver a secure online IDA service for Universal Credit.
Media enquiries: 0203 267 5125
Out of hours: 07659 108 883
Website: www.dwp.gov.uk
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dwppressoffice

Cybersecurity, and GDS's fantasy strategy

For some time now, the Government Digital Service (GDS) have made the meaning of their digital-by-default agenda clear – they want the UK to be like Estonia.

It is thanks to the fact that practically every service in Estonia is delivered over the web that, back in 2007, Russia was able to bring the country to its knees in a matter of days. If GDS succeed with their "modernisation" plans, there will be nothing to stop that happening here in the UK.

GDS are in awe of the financial success and popularity of Apple, Amazon, eBay/PayPal, Google and Facebook. With no experience of government behind them, the over-promoted software engineers at the head of GDS want to bring their heroes' tricks to the delivery of public services in the UK.

Sensible people will see Facebook et al as latter-day Pied Pipers of Hamelin – sensible people, including the tens of thousands of public servants who will be laid off and replaced by GDS's computers when government is, as they say, "transformed".

Many of these organisations are famous for avoiding tax on their UK profits and for using their near-monopolies to tyrannise their suppliers and to milk their customers. But GDS somehow maintain their naïve veneration and on 6 November 2012 they published their Government Digital Strategy.

This fantasy strategy is an elaboration of Martha Lane Fox's ideas, set out in her October 2010 letter to Francis Maude, Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution. Ms Lane Fox is the Prime Minister's digital champion, she's a historian, and when she says "revolution" she means it.

Her revolutionary fervour is carried over into last week's GDS strategy, which Sir Bob Kerslake – head of the home civil service, permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and previously the chief executive of first the London Borough of Hounslow and then Sheffield City Council – has greeted with a post on GDS's blog, Welcoming the Digital Strategy:
Our reform plan also made a clear commitment to improve the quality of the government’s digital services, and to do this by publishing a Government Digital Strategy setting out how we would support the transformation of digital services [how does publishing a wishlist improve the quality of public services?].

We fulfilled that commitment yesterday with the launch of the Government Digital Strategy, Digital Efficiency Report and Digital Landscape Report and I very much welcome their publication.
But why? Why does Sir Bob "welcome" this emmental cheese of a strategy? It's full of holes. Consider cybersecurity for example.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Whitehall governance, and GDS's fantasy strategy

For some time now, the Government Digital Service (GDS) have made the meaning of their digital-by-default agenda clear – they want the UK to be like Estonia.

It is thanks to the fact that practically every service in Estonia is delivered over the web that, back in 2007, Russia was able to bring the country to its knees in a matter of days. If GDS succeed with their "modernisation" plans, there will be nothing to stop that happening here in the UK.

GDS are in awe of the financial success and popularity of Apple, Amazon, eBay/PayPal, Google and Facebook. With no experience of government behind them, the over-promoted software engineers at the head of GDS want to bring their heroes' tricks to the delivery of public services in the UK.

Sensible people will see Facebook et al as latter-day Pied Pipers of Hamelin – sensible people, including the tens of thousands of public servants who will be laid off and replaced by GDS's computers when government is, as they say, "transformed".

Many of these organisations are famous for avoiding tax on their UK profits and for using their near-monopolies to tyrannise their suppliers and to milk their customers. But GDS somehow maintain their naïve veneration and on 6 November 2012 they published their Government Digital Strategy.

This fantasy strategy is an elaboration of Martha Lane Fox's ideas, set out in her October 2010 letter to Francis Maude, Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution. Ms Lane Fox is the Prime Minister's digital champion, she's a historian, and when she says "revolution" she means it.

Her revolutionary fervour is carried over into last week's GDS strategy, which Sir Bob Kerslake – head of the home civil service, permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and previously the chief executive of first the London Borough of Hounslow and then Sheffield City Council – has greeted with a post on GDS's blog, Welcoming the Digital Strategy:
Our reform plan also made a clear commitment to improve the quality of the government’s digital services, and to do this by publishing a Government Digital Strategy setting out how we would support the transformation of digital services [how does publishing a wishlist improve the quality of public services?].

We fulfilled that commitment yesterday with the launch of the Government Digital Strategy, Digital Efficiency Report and Digital Landscape Report and I very much welcome their publication.
But why? Why does Sir Bob "welcome" this emmental cheese of a strategy? It's full of holes. Consider the governance of Whitehall for example.

The law, and GDS's fantasy strategy

For some time now, the Government Digital Service (GDS) have made the meaning of their digital-by-default agenda clear – they want the UK to be like Estonia.

It is thanks to the fact that practically every service in Estonia is delivered over the web that, back in 2007, Russia was able to bring the country to its knees in a matter of days. If GDS succeed with their "modernisation" plans, there will be nothing to stop that happening here in the UK.

GDS are in awe of the financial success and popularity of Apple, Amazon, eBay/PayPal, Google and Facebook. With no experience of government behind them, the over-promoted software engineers at the head of GDS want to bring their heroes' tricks to the delivery of public services in the UK.

Sensible people will see Facebook et al as latter-day Pied Pipers of Hamelin – sensible people, including the tens of thousands of public servants who will be laid off and replaced by GDS's computers when government is, as they say, "transformed".

Many of these organisations are famous for avoiding tax on their UK profits and for using their near-monopolies to tyrannise their suppliers and to milk their customers. But GDS somehow maintain their naïve veneration and on 6 November 2012 they published their Government Digital Strategy.

This fantasy strategy is an elaboration of Martha Lane Fox's ideas, set out in her October 2010 letter to Francis Maude, Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution. Ms Lane Fox is the Prime Minister's digital champion, she's a historian, and when she says "revolution" she means it.

Her revolutionary fervour is carried over into last week's GDS strategy, which Sir Bob Kerslake – head of the home civil service, permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and previously the chief executive of first the London Borough of Hounslow and then Sheffield City Council – has greeted with a post on GDS's blog, Welcoming the Digital Strategy:
Our reform plan also made a clear commitment to improve the quality of the government’s digital services, and to do this by publishing a Government Digital Strategy setting out how we would support the transformation of digital services [how does publishing a wishlist improve the quality of public services?].

We fulfilled that commitment yesterday with the launch of the Government Digital Strategy, Digital Efficiency Report and Digital Landscape Report and I very much welcome their publication.
But why? Why does Sir Bob "welcome" this emmental cheese of a strategy? It's full of holes. Consider the law for example.

Friday, 9 November 2012

The Department of Health has been Katie Davisless for some time now. That, and GDS's fantasy strategy

Does Sir David still provide mental health services in England?

12 October 2011, Less for more:
First Katie worked for James and Ian. Then Ian left and so did Katie. When James left as well, Katie stopped working for Ian and went to work for James. Then James left and Sarah took over. There was no room for Katie so she went back to working for Ian. Until Christine left and now Katie finds herself working for David. Or is it the other way around? ...

In 2007 she moved to the Identity & Passport Service (IPS), where she was appointed Executive Director of Strategy. After three years of her strategy, IPS imploded ...

Had Ian Watmore at last managed to assert his authority over the Department of Health? Who knows. But one way and another, Christine Connelly was replaced by Katie Davis ...
Last seen, Katie Davis was the Cabinet Office's representative at the heart of the Department of Health. Her task? To stop money pouring down the NHS's National Programme for IT (NPfIT, £12 billion) and to get Sir David Nicholson under control.

Sir David Nicholson KCB CBE is Chief Executive of the English National Health Service and Chief Executive of the NHS Commissioning Board. "Nicholson joined the NHS on graduation, and then the Communist Party of Great Britain. He remained a member of the party until 1983". That's what it says in his Wikipedia entry and presumably it's there to be quoted.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

UC soon to be/already is Steve Doverless

The Department for Work and Pensions, DWP's Universal Credit project is in difficulties.

We know that.

The political problems are hard enough to solve.

Whitehall has created additional problems:
And the difficulties are increasing.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Government Digital Service (GDS), your comment is awaiting moderation 1

GDS have published their digital strategy. Francis Maude says that digital by default will save between £1.7 billion p.a. and £1.8 billion p.a. How much longer are people going to fall for that gambit?

Sir Bob Kerslake, head of the home civil service and permanent secretary at DCLG, has penned a tribute to GDS, the strategy and digital by default.

At about 1 o'clock this afternoon, DMossEsq submitted a comment on Sir Bob's post. Unpublished on GDS's blog, it's still awaiting moderation. With GDS you can wait forever:

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Identity assurance – shall we vote on it?

For years now
the Cabinet Office have claimed
that they don't want to create a single, central national identity register.

Falsely, as it turns out.

They want to store a single, central identity-assured electoral roll
with the credit referencing agencies.

Lord Maxton: ... The noble Lord, Lord Rennard, in particular, roused me to my feet as I have one simple point to make. The Bill is designed to stop fraud and ought to be designed to encourage people to vote, and there is one simple way to deal with that. Unfortunately this House and the other place both voted to get rid of that simple way of dealing with this matter, which was the introduction of an identity card-a general register of all people. It would have been a compulsory identity card for everyone. It would have ensured that everyone was on the central register and we would not be in this position. The noble Lord, Lord Rennard, led the campaign, as much as anybody did, against ID cards, which was a major error on his part. By the way, the technology on ID cards, or smart cards, has moved on extensively even since we abolished the proposal less than two years ago. Now we could have a smart card that would ensure that people were on a central register and the register itself would divide and set up online registers for the whole of the country. Each constituency would have a register, not completed by a registration officer or by individual registration but automatically: by pressing a series of buttons on a computer it would come up with the right answers ...
The Electoral Registration and Administration Bill began its committee stage last Monday, 29 October 2012. Lord Maxton's contribution ignores the fact that the ID cards scheme failed despite enjoying eight years, 2002-10, of unstinting political support from the European Commission, Whitehall, two Prime Ministers and five Home Secretaries, and despite eight years of hosing unlimited public money at management consultants, software houses and biometrics experts. It's just not that easy, my lord.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Cloud computing – how to lose control of your data #94

It's Sunday. Give us a break
Cloud computing is supposed to be cheaper than the alternatives. How many times have we heard that some new management fashion will save us money? How many times can we fall for it? How many times has it turned out to be true? Exactly.

Cloud computing is meant to be more efficient, more reliable, more trusted, more flexible, more scalable, more resilient, more modern, more transformative, ... In each case, the claim is either false or, at best, unproven.

No need to keep banging on about it, the point has been made.

Sign up for cloud computing, like what Her Majesty's Government has in the UK, and you lose control of your data. You want to go out of business? Go ahead. Up to you. Stick your data in the cloud.

We know that. It's all a bit relentlessIt's Sunday. Give us a break.

The gift that keeps on giving
Actually, there's another reason to avoid cloud computing, one that hasn't been mentioned so far on DMossEsq, a new answer to the question why is it foolish to store your data in the cloud.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Identity assurance. Only the future is certain – doom 4 and last (William Heath, Mydex, midata, BIS, GDS and ID cards)


What's the beef?
A personal data store is the software equivalent of an ID card ...
After all the promises
going back to the 20 September 2010 identity assurance meeting ...
here we go again.

Remember this:
  • There was a revealing moment at the 31 October 2011 identity assurance (IdA) meeting. Una Bennett, Head, Learner Records Service, did a presentation on the Skills Funding Agency's Learner Passport pilot project.
  • Stay awake.
  • Ms Bennett keeps lists of all the exams people have sat. It's a sort of National Identity Register of exam results. (Public money well spent? You be the judge.) Anyone too disorganised to do their own filing can always contact her to find out if they got a grade 4 in Latin O-level or a grade 5. Something like that.
  • Which seemed to annoy William Heath.
  • Mr Heath was at the meeting, together with other exhibitors/winners of Technology Strategy Board funding, when he laid into Ms Bennett. Your exam results, he implied, like every other fact about you, should be kept in personal data stores (PDSs) administered by Mydex, Mr Heath's company. And they would be, too, if it wasn't for the disgraceful fact that the Skills Funding Agency gets £40 million a year of public funds (Mr Heath's figure) and Mydex doesn't.
Now read on ...

Thursday, 1 November 2012

G-Cloud team soon to be Eleanor Stewartless

G-Cloud ii has been released. There are now over 3,000 conveniently automated ways for central and local government departments to lose control of their IT through CloudStore.

Eleanor has been closely involved in the project and, as a trained archaeologist, she will be particularly well-placed to go through the remains after it all comes tumbling down, identifying the signs of a once-thriving civilisation. "I look forward to watching it happen from my new role in the FCO", she says – G-Cloud's loss is the Foreign Office's gain.

She will be missed. She said G-Cloud ii would be released on 26 October 2012 and it was. She provided a forum for debate and she confronted criticism openly, e.g. "What the heck can we do to resolve some of the scary and largely unknown legal and policy issues that people are nervous about in a globalised world?". Good question. No answer. But at least she asked. The Foreign Office are lucky.

It's not unknown for Whitehall to be open about criticism. Lin Homer at HMRC is pretty good at it and has been for years. We may yet discover from her, HMRC's side of the story about losing control of all our tax records in the cloud with Skyscape, the one-man company with no track record.

Compare that with the Government Digital Service (GDS).

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Alarm – adult human being found still working at the Cabinet Office

Thank goodness for Andy Smith. Whoever he is. And even if he isn't.
audio
video (slide to 1:31:30)

Hat tip: Philip Virgo

25 October 2012, and Whitehall held one of its endless conferences/talking shops where people who work for acronyms get together and speak in acronyms. The 9:20 welcome and introduction, for example, were given by John Robertson MP, Chair, apComms and Chi Onwurah MP and Stephen Mosley MP, Co-Chairs, PICTFOR.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Identity assurance. Only the future is certain – doom 3

It's Monday 31 October 2011, and six months after his previous identity assurance meeting DMossEsq finds himself at another one. That's the meeting where ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken spoke and which he wrote up on the Government Digital Service (GDS) blog, Establishing trust in digital services.

Three points.

The event was called Ensuring Trusted Services with the new Identity Assurance Programme and there's a natural tendency to think of it as a Cabinet Office event or more specifically a Government Digital Service (GDS) event. It wasn't.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Identity assurance. Only the future is certain – doom 2 (corrected)

Why didn't the Government Digital Service
make its planned 22 October 2012 announcement about IdA?
Are the "identity providers", sensibly, having second thoughts?

Wednesday 20 April 2011, seven months after his previous meeting, and DMossEsq finds himself at another one to discuss identity assurance (IdA or IDA).

In between whiles, Martha Lane Fox has sent her famous letter to Francis Maude advocating the MLF Prerogative, an amendment to the British Constitution whereby whoever is in charge of GOV.UK will have the power of veto over government policy and will be able to enforce that power using SWAT teams with sharp teeth.

Something of that same aggression has transmitted itself to the Treasury room in which we meet. The testosterone level is oppressive. A roomful of salesmen who were promised no money last September. And yet here they are again. Wolves, howling, scenting money, leaking from a wounded government.

Identity assurance. Only the future is certain – doom 1

The ID cards scheme made IPS into pariahs in Whitehall.
The same fate awaits GDS.

Monday 20 September 2010, the aftermath of the comprehensive failure of Whitehall's plans to introduce government ID cards to the UK, and DMossEsq finds himself at a meeting to discuss identity assurance:

GOV.UK is not Government on the Internet, but of the Internet

Why haven't GDS announced their identity assurance strategy yet?
The suspicion is growing that they haven't got one.

In the absence of any news about the Government Digital Service's plans for identity assurance your gaze may fall upon ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken's blog post about the release last week of GOV.UK, the new single government domain, the partial implementation of Martha Lane Fox's "digital by default".

Why does GOV.UK matter?

Good question.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

HMRC and Skyscape 2

The following open letter has been sent by email and by post to Phil Pavitt in his capacity as HMRC Director General Change, Security and Information with a copy to Lin Homer, Chief Executive, HMRC:

Is GOV.UK a work of art? With no identity assurance services, that's the best it can hope for ...

... at which point GOV.UK starts to look pointless ...

DWP are waiting for identity assurance services, to make progress on Universal Credit.

We were expecting the suppliers of identity assurance services to be named by 30 September 2012 latest. It didn't happen. Then we were expecting them to be named on 22 October 2012. It didn't happen. We're expecting Universal Credit to make work pay but at the present rate that isn't going to happen either.

Last week's release of GOV.UK was "the start of a new era of digital services" according to ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken, executive director of the Government Digital Service (GDS) – not without identity assurance services it isn't.