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.
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.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Reminiscing about IdA while we wait to find out about our identity providers

30 September 2012 has come and gone. Everyone was looking forward to discovering which companies would be the UK's "identity providers" but the deadline passed and we're none the wiser.

Then it seemed as though we would be told on 22 October 2012. That's what it said in the Independent and the Government Digital Service (GDS) seemed quite happy with that coverage but no, still no answer.

While we're waiting, it's tempting to reminisce about the history of GDS's Identity Assurance project (IdA).

Monday, 22 October 2012

Things happen when Lin Homer's in the loop. Fast.

An open letter was sent to HMRC by email and by post asking about the advisability of contracting with Skyscape Cloud Services Ltd.

An acknowledgement was received today by post promising a response within 15 working days.

And then the response was received, as shown below, dated today. Unprecedented.

GDS and their friends

Will HMG really entrust our personal identities and data collected under statutory authority to those who base their ID governance in Dublin, their IT and security staff in India or their files on the west coast of the US? You could not make up the idea that the Home Office might seriously consider outsourcing the running of our immigration and criminal records to an India software company - but this is allegedly about to happen.
Last week, it was GOV.UK. Later today, the Government Digital Service (GDS) should make an announcement about identity assurance (IdA).

GDS want to make all public services digital by default. That will "transform government", they say, it will make it joined up and modern and efficient and trusted and green.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Cloud computing turns IT into a utility, and that's a good thing?

The interesting thing about cloud computing
is that we've redefined cloud computing
to include everything that we already do...
The computer industry is the only industry
that is more fashion-driven than women's fashion.
Maybe I'm an idiot,
but I have no idea what anyone is talking about.
What is it?
It's complete gibberish.
It's insane.
When is this idiocy going to stop?

Cloud computing is cheaper, better, faster, easier, ... because it turns IT into a utility. In fact it's a no-brainer. So says Whitehall's G-Cloud team, reading from the industry hymn-sheet.

DMossEsq doesn't think that emulating the utilities markets is obviously a very good idea. Neither does Richard Stallman. And as for Larry Ellison, all $41 billion-worth of him, he thinks cloud computing announcements are "fashion-driven" and "complete gibberish", see above. And below.

But never mind Messrs Stallman and Ellison and DMossEsq, take a look at the past week's utilities news and you decide, what do you think? Is this where you want public money spent? Your money?

Don't bother working on the answer too hard by the way because actually it doesn't matter what you think. HMRC have already contracted with Skyscape Cloud Services Ltd to put your tax data in the cloud and GDS – the Government Digital Service – have already contracted with the same company to put all your benefits data up there in the cloud, too.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Skyscape? Yes? No? Akamai? Maybe? Where is GOV.UK?

DMossEsq has just been contacted and told that he's wrong – a daily event that the reader would not normally be troubled with, but this is different.

PRESS RELEASE: GOV.UK/digital by default – 17 questions for Mr Maude

The following press release has been issued:



Home Office
China (re Golden Shield)
Pakistan (re NADRA)
FBI (re NGI)
UIDAI (re Aadhaar)
GOV.UK/digital by default – 17 questions for Mr Maude
17 October 2012

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

GDS – the user experience of misfeasance in public office

Tomorrow's news
17 October 2012 – GOV.UK goes live
22 October 2012 – major announcement on IdA (identity assurance)
26 October 2012 – G-Cloud II
Who knows when? – midata

What does that all add up to?

Whitehall and others wasting your money with impunity – the disgraceful state of public administration in the UK.

You want DMossEsq to draw you a map?


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Martha Lane Fox –

Something's up
It's still only 12 October as DMossEsq starts this post and the Government Digital Service (GDS) team have already published 22 posts on their blog this month. They've never done that before. Something's up:

Thursday, 11 October 2012

GDS and Skyscape

The following open letter has been sent by email to ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken in his capacity as Executive Director, Government Digital Service (GDS) and Senior Responsible Officer Owner for the Cabinet Office's identity assurance programme (IdA). No response has been received:

HMRC and Skyscape

The following open letter has been sent by email* to Lin Homer in her capacity as Chief Executive, Permanent Secretary and Commissioner of HMRC:

Thursday, 4 October 2012

GDS get off to a bad start, and it's only going to get worse

GDS have broken cover.

GDS is the Government Digital Service and they are responsible for a government project called "identity assurance" (IdA). They were due to announce the winners of the tender to provide identity assurance services in the UK by 30 September 2012. They missed the deadline but three articles appeared in the British press today:
All the nonsense that DMossEsq has been blogging about has been confirmed in those articles as government policy. And not just the UK government. The US as well – cloud computing, midata, Skyscape, Universal Credit, Facebok, Google, PayPal, Twitter, GOV.UK, OIX, ...

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Skyscape, Whitehall have no excuse, the contracts must be unwound

... irresponsible, unwise, imprudent, disgraceful ...
indefensible ...
misfeasance in public office ...

5 questions were posed to the G-Cloud team and the Government Digital Service (GDS). These questions concern Skyscape Cloud Services Ltd.

Skyscape is a new company with just £1,000 of paid up share capital and just one director, who also happens to be the only shareholder.

You can't get much smaller than Skyscape and yet the company's wares are listed on the G-Cloud on-line shop, CloudStore. You can't get much smaller, and yet GDS have contracted with Skyscape to host GOV.UK, the new central government website. And HMRC have contracted with this one-man company to store the data currently held at local HMRC offices.

All the normal rules are broken by these baffling decisions. National assets are being entrusted to the care of what looks like a tiny, new company. Thus the five questions.

Monday, 1 October 2012

What are GDS doing while DWP wait for an identity assurance service they can use for Universal Credit?

OIX provides a means of engaging with partners to structure alpha projects that experiment with solutions to real-world problems. These projects will morph and scale into production solutions ...

Me neither.

The wordage above was assembled by Don Thibeau, the Chairman and At-large Director of OIX.

Cloud computing and the Gadarene lemmings of Whitehall

It happens sometimes. You sit down to write a post and find you've already written it. In this case three months ago, HMG's cloud computing strategy – there isn't one.