Monday, 14 December 2015

RIP IDA – some "identity providers" are less trustworthy than others

No need to say it, it goes without saying, it should be obvious to all but,
just in case it isn't obvious to all,
IDA is dead.

IDA, now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)",
is the Cabinet Office Identity Assurance programme.
And it's dead.


GOV.UK Verify (RIP)
"Identity provider" GPG45 service Applied for Granted ("no. of profiles")
.
Barclays Identity Assurance and Provisioning 28 September 2015
digidentity Identity Provider Service for Verify 30 April 2015 (4)
Experian IDaaS 21 October 2014 (4)
GBGroup ID3global 12 February 2015 (2)
Morpho secureidentity 19 November 2015
PayPal
Post Office IDA 24 February 2014, lapsed February 2015
Royal Mail
Verizon UIS 11 February 2015 (5)
.
Not an "identity provider" mentioned by GDS
Equifax Identity Verifier for IdP 10 December 2014 (2)

The Government Digital Service (GDS) want to build trust in their GOV.UK Verify (RIP) identity assurance scheme by being open, "the sunlight of transparency is making things better".

Friday, 4 December 2015

"We transformed digital delivery for the UK government"


You probably can't read the image above. Not easily. What it says is:

Monday, 30 November 2015

"The organisation you join is not the organisation you will work for"

On 16 October 2013 ex-Public Servant of the Year ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken CBE ex-CDO ex-CDO, ex-executive director of the Government Digital Service (GDS) and ex-senior responsible owner of the pan-government identity assurance programme now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)", delivered an astonishing lecture to the Code for America Summit. But you know that.

What you may not know is that his deputy, Tom Loosemore, delivered the same lecture to the same audience a year later, 23-25 September 2014:



Mr Loosemore's was more or less congruent with the Bracken script.

There was one slip, between 5'18" and 5'42", when he promised that GOV.UK Verify (RIP) was going to go into public testing "in a few weeks" – the previous year, delegates had been led to believe that it was already live with 45 million users.

Otherwise, the same buttons were pressed. Particularly the Whitehall button. Whitehall wouldn't know how to modernise its services even if it wanted to, Mr Loosemore said, 2'40"-3'02".

The only component Mr Loosemore added to the speech was "the GDS dream":

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Ear tags for goats and the case of the missing platform

One week to go before the Chancellor's Autumn Statement and we know just two things about Government as a Platform (GaaP):
And that's it. There are four platforms, according to GDS. And no others.

Or are there? Are there some other platforms knocking around which GDS for some reason fails to mention?

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Warwickshire and the missing attribute – progress

It is just over a month since we last reported on blue badges.

For anyone who doesn't know, the UK Blue Badge Scheme "provides a range of parking and other motoring concessions for people who are registered blind or have severe mobility problems".

Tthere has been an agile flurry of blue badge digital activity in the last 24 hours. @helenolsen wants you to know that Warwickshire are working on an attribute exchange hub for blue badge applications. So do @ukalocaldigital, @UKAuthority, @LDgovUK and @localdirectgov.

Their common source is an article on the UKAuthority.com website:
Warwickshire works on attributes hub

Project with GDS focuses on more flexible approach to identity assurance

Warwickshire County Council is taking the lead on a project to develop a hub for the exchange of attributes connected to people’s identities.

Although the project is still at an early prototype stage, the council hopes it could complement GOV.UK Verify [RIP] in providing a model for all the public sector to use in proving someone’s eligibility for specific services with the minimum exchange of data ...
Warwickshire County Council have worked on GOV.UK Verify (RIP) with the Government Digital Service before. It didn't go well.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

WrinklesInTheMatrix: Mark Thompson 1

Earlier wrinkles:
14 October 2011Francis Maude
14 October 2011Oliver Letwin
14 October 2011Ian Watmore
14 November 2011Mike Bracken
Mark Thompson believes that 1½ million public servants could be laid off and £35.5 billion could be saved as a result, if only the UK civil service followed the example of Spotify, eBay, Airbnb, Rightmove, Uber and Amazon.

Any number of people believe the same thing. Douglas Carswell MP, for example, the UK Member of Parliament who wrote The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy, reviewed here in February 2013.

Even HMRC may believe it. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs are trying to break their giant ASPIRE contract into lots of little ones which is part of the Mark Thompson prescription. ASPIRE is unwieldy and ponderous. And expensive. Replace it with a lot of nimbler and more innovative contracts, and the result might be more efficient and cheaper. The question is, how do you get from ponderous to nimble?

HMRC have hired Bain & Company, the management consultants, to answer that question. Mr Thompson thinks that it's management consultants who got HMRC into the ASPIRE mess in the first place.

He may be right to be pessimistic about Bain's assignment. But if Mr Thompson had specified how to achieve his £35.5 billion of projected savings, then HMRC wouldn't have had to call in Bain.

Mr Thompson rejects that criticism, ruefully asserting that HMRC and others don't listen to people like him. You may get the impression of Mr Thompson as a lone thinker coming up with great ideas that Whitehall are too hoity-toity to listen to, a powerless Mr Thompson signalling to distant central government departments while trying to stay afloat in a sea of pathos.

But, there's a wrinkle.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Does my register look canonical in this?

Cast your mind back seven months to 27 March 2015 and an interview given to TechRepublic magazine's Alex Howard by ex-Public Servant of the Year ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken ex-CDO ex-CDO CBE, ex-executive director of the Government Digital Service (GDS) and ex-senior responsible owner of the pan-government identity assurance programme now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)".

Mr Bracken was the government's chief data officer at the time, that's one of his CDOs, and Mr Howard was trying to find out what a CDO does.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Manzoni: reform and the efficiency of the Civil Service

Apparently yesterday was the third birthday of the Government Digital Service's award-winning GOV.UK, the public face of UK government on-line.

While Steve Uriah Foreshew was cheering on the remainder of the depleted crew, John Manzoni was speaking to Reform about "reform and the efficiency of the Civil Service".

Mr Manzoni is Chief Executive of the civil service and he and Matt Hancock, Cabinet Office Minister, have entertained us before with their views on GDS.

"In the Government’s Major Projects portfolio there are 150 major projects worth £400 billion", Mr Manzoni told Reform, "everything from building aircraft carriers, to engineering new digital services like Verify, to protect citizens identity online". Aircraft carriers, yes, they appear in the Major Projects Authority's 2014-15 report. But GOV.UK Verify (RIP) doesn't.

Mr Manzoni will have cheered up the oarspersons in the GDS lifeboat with "GOV.UK is the model and the vehicle for what we need to do. It has brought nearly 1,900 websites into a single portal, saving significant amounts of money each year". If they ever make landfall, there's more to do – "this is just the start".

What more is there to do?

Thursday, 8 October 2015

GDS, blue badgeholders

There was a cri de cœur the other day on the Government Digital Service (GDS) Twitter feed.

We've been here before. The national Blue Badge Scheme, you will remember, "provides a range of parking and other motoring concessions for people who are registered blind or have severe mobility problems". And clearly the on-line application system had given Ms Haworth a hard time.

GDS never tackled Blue Badge. It isn't one of the 25 exemplars included in their grandly titled "government transformation" programme.

Blue Badge is still a Directgov application, on https://bluebadge.direct.gov.uk/directgovapply.html and we've been here before as well. GDS claimed for years that GOV.UK, the award-winning public face of the UK government on-line, had replaced both Directgov and Business Link.


That claim was false for years and it still is, as Ms Haworth among others can testify.

But there has been progress – the misleading claim to have replaced Directgov and Business Link has now at last been removed from GOV.UK's home page.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Lack of control, insecurity, irrelevance to attribute exchange and inconvenience – what else do you look for in a personal data store?

Last heard of in these parts, personal data stores (PDSs) were being advocated as an aid to considerate death. Your PDS is a digital version of you. It represents you on the web while you live. And even in the afterlife, Assisted dying the digital way with a core consent delegation management repository.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

So where are we on astrology? 13 years late, UK government promises biometrics strategy by end 2015. Why?

In July 2002 Rt Hon David Blunkett MP, Home Secretary, issued a consultation document on introducing government-issued identity cards into the UK. One idea was to use biometrics to verify people's identity.

There was no proof at the time that mass consumer biometrics was reliable enough to do the job. 13 years later, there still isn't. The belief in the efficacy of mass consumer biometrics is akin to the belief in astrology.

In February 2015 the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published a report, Current and future uses of biometric data and technologies. Biometrics was described as "the shoddiest science offered to the courts" and was said to be locked in a "cycle of failure".

The Committee declared itself to be worried about the privacy issues raised by biometrics and about the security of biometric databases. Which is odd. After all, if the technology doesn't work, there are no privacy issues. And the Committee doesn't (yet) seem to be worried about the storage facilities for horoscopes.

One way and another the Committee's report came up with 12 recommendations, to which the government's response has now been published.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Government as a Platform is the next current previous phase of digital transformation and you know what that means

GaaP and the future
Government as a Platform (GaaP). It's "the next phase of digital transformation". That's what Public Servant of the Year ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken CBE CDO CDO, executive director of the Government Digital Service (GDS) and Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) of the pan-government identity assurance programme now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)", told us on 29 March 2015.

Which is odd ...

Thursday, 10 September 2015

RIP IDA – investment interest "has closed or been withdrawn"

No need to say it, it goes without saying, it should be obvious to all but,
just in case it isn't obvious to all,
IDA is dead.

IDA, now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)",
is the Cabinet Office Identity Assurance programme.
And it's dead.

Let's say that you're a venture capital person. In that case you'll know that 95% of the ventures you invest in bomb. For £95 out of every £100 that you invest, there's nothing to show for it. You lose your money. It's gone.

Just to break even, the other £5 has got to return £100. Your investment has to appreciate by a factor 20. After tax. After all investment costs. Such as hiring the Four Seasons Hotel in Hampshire for the day. That's not cheap.

But what's the point of breaking even? You can do that by not investing in the first place. The idea is to make a profit.

How much profit? You want to double your money? Then that £5 investment you made in the one surviving enterprise has to grow by a factor of 40, not 20.

That's not going to happen overnight. Suppose your investment grows at the rate of 10% p.a. How long will it take to be worth £200? Answer, something between 38 and 39 years. 38.70394 years to be precise, but there's no point being precise because you have clearly starved to death a long time before merely doubling your money.

38 is pushing it. Let's say you can afford to lock up your money for five years. How fast does the value of the investment have to grow? Answer, at the rate of 109.1279% p.a. Every annum. For five years. After tax. And after costs.

It's not easy finding investments that can do that. And even if you find one, your peers in the venture capital business will laugh at you for only doubling your money. But never mind their laughter, let's say that you're a pretty grounded sort of investor and that, for you, net doubling your money in five years is enough.

Time to take an example.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Assisted dying the digital way with a core consent delegation management repository

Guess what this is:

Transaction Date Transaction Type Merchant/Description
Debit/Credit
Balance
31-12-2014 GDS ***********************************************
-224.76
2,524.32
30-12-2014 BIS ********************************
-1,614.68
2,749.08
01-12-2014 GDS ***********************************************
-185.57
4,363.75
01-12-2014 GDS ******************************
-1,269.42
4,549.33
31-10-2014 GDS **********
-1,066.21
5,818.75
30-10-2014 BIS ************************
826.43
6,884.96
30-09-2014 GDS ***************************
2,440.86
6,058.53
30-09-2014 GDS ************************
2,953.17
3,617.67
08-09-2014 BIS ***********************************************
-206.86
664.50
04-09-2014 BIS ***********************************************
-311.02
871.36

Give up?

Monday, 7 September 2015

RIP IDA – what they didn't tell you about the future of GOV.UK Verify (RIP). Follow the entrepreneur


No need to say it, it goes without saying, it should be obvious to all but,
just in case it isn't obvious to all,
IDA is dead.

IDA, now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)",
is the Cabinet Office Identity Assurance programme.
And it's dead.

GOV.UK Verify (RIP) 101
According to Introducing GOV.UK Verify (RIP), "GOV.UK Verify [RIP] is the new way to prove who you are online so you can use government services safely, like viewing your driving licence or assessing your tax".

It's a daunting prospect, "when you’re using digital services, you need to be sure that your privacy is being protected and your data is secure".

But don't worry, "GOV.UK Verify [RIP] is more secure than usual methods of proving who you are, because there’s no central storage of information". That is a contender for one of the world's great non sequiturs but, all the same, don't worry ...

... because "GOV.UK Verify [RIP] uses certified companies to check it’s you ... it takes less than a minute to verify your identity each time you need to use a GOV.UK service ... You choose the certified company (you can choose as many as you like, and you can change at any time). You don’t have an account with government ... no-one has more information than the minimum to perform their function".

Don't be confused, "GOV.UK Verify [RIP] isn’t a service in its own right. Rather, it provides a way into government services on GOV.UK".

Thursday, 3 September 2015

RIP IDA – 1466442, or what the careers advisor said to GDS's prospective Privacy Officer


No need to say it, it goes without saying, it should be obvious to all but,
just in case it isn't obvious to all,
IDA is dead.

IDA, now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)",
is the Cabinet Office Identity Assurance programme.
And it's dead.

Scenario
You are a careers advisor. A young person approaches you clutching a situations vacant ad. What do you advise?

Sit Vac
The Government Digital Service seeks to appoint a Privacy Officer, closing date for applications one week today, 10 September 2015:
Privacy Officer

Government Digital Service

We are seeking an experienced Privacy Officer to lead the data protection and privacy aspects of the GOV.UK Verify [RIP] programme, both within GDS and across our delivery partners ...

Interviews week commencing: 21/09/2015 ...
Advice
Who knows but you might advise as follows.

Monday, 31 August 2015

RIP IDA – as tactfully as possible, the intensive care team take the family aside and prepare them for the inevitable


No need to say it, it goes without saying, it should be obvious to all but,
just in case it isn't obvious to all,
IDA is dead.

IDA, now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)",
is the Cabinet Office Identity Assurance programme.
And it's dead.


OIX, the intensive care team, is well known to DMossEsq's millions of regular readers but for the rest of you:
Open Identity Exchange UK (OIXUK)

This is the UK arm of a global organisation working directly with governments and the private sector developing solutions and trust for online identity, specifically for the British citizen.

OIX UK works closely with the Cabinet Office on the Identity Assurance Programme.  This is the development of the GOV.UK Verify service.  The identity assurance process can also be applied to other, non government websites where proof of identity is wanted.

The OIX goal is to enable the expansion of online identity services and adoption of new online identity products.

We work as a broker between industries designing, testing and developing pilot projects to test real use cases.  All project results are published for the public in the form of white papers.

OIX UK is open to new members.  Non members are welcome to attend our workshops,  membership is preferred for participation in projects – contact us for further information.
OIX has just published not one but two white papers:
Jointly and severally conveyed, the message is the same – there's no hope, IDA is dead, GOV.UK Verify (RIP).

Sunday, 23 August 2015

iRevolutionaries firing blanks

• "From the super smart @LouiseDowne"
Ben Terrett, Director of Design, GDS
• "it's the narrative we've been lacking
about why it's vital to focus on user …"
Neil Williams, Product Lead, GOV.UK
• "I will be referring people to this often"
Neil Williams again
Two months ago on 22 June 2015 Louise Downe published Good services are verbs, bad services are nouns on the GDS design notes blog. Her point? Apparently "verbs will change the way your service works".

Ms Downe is the Head of Service Design at the Government Digital Service (GDS) and considerable effort was put into divining what she meant. To no avail. It remains unclear what her advice is how to improve the design of government services.

On 6 August 2015 she published Better services with patterns and standards on the main GDS blog. She's talking about Government as a Platform (GaaP) and she's talking about service patterns. What is a service pattern?

Service patterns, she tells us, are "consistent (but not uniform)" standards that "will provide better interoperability between services, meaning that we can more easily join them up across government" and they will give government "a way to know how to provide a particular type of service well". Also, "service patterns will be our instruction manual for using platforms and registers to build better services".

No example of a service pattern is given. What do they look like? How do they promote interoperability? How do they raise standards? How will people learn from them? And what have service patterns got to do with verbs? All the reader knows is that "we’re still working out how the creation and management of a service pattern works" and "there’s still a lot to work out".

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Groundhog Day

We all woke up in the UK yesterday morning to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, among others, warning us about a ...
Government crackdown on firms employing illegal immigrants

Immigration minister James Brokenshire says the government [is] determined to act against businesses denying work to British nationals and driving down wages

Rogue employers who give jobs to illegal immigrants will be hit with the "full force" of the government machine ministers have warned.

Immigration minister James Brokenshire said the Government was determined to act against businesses which were denying work to British nationals and driving down wages ...
Yesterday was 10 August 2015.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The underwater vote

You don't need to think about it. In fact, it helps not to think about it. But local election turn-outs in the UK are low. People are disengaged from politics. More people vote for Britain's Got Talent than in European elections. It's easier to vote for Britain's Got Talent, we can do it in total security with our phones. Which is how we do everything else. So why do we have to go all the way to the local church hall and pencil a cross on a piece of paper to vote in general elections?

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Paradise Disrupted

“Every industry and business constantly needs to adapt its internal processes and governance to accommodate digital disruption. We are no different in government.”

- Mike Bracken, GDS Blog 14 March 2013

In blogs, interviews and articles during Mike Bracken’s time at the helm of GDS, the theme of disruption has been at the heart of the GDS approach to government ...

As Mike Bracken said in Civil Service World in February this year “be innovative, experimental, and disruptive” ...
Why did Steven Cox include those quotations in his 6 July 2015 blog post, A welcome disruption? And who is he?

Monday, 29 June 2015

The Future of Digital Government: What's worked? What's not? What's next?

Here's an invitation that was issued by the think tank Policy Exchange earlier this month, on or before 8 June 2015:

The Future of Digital Government: What's worked? What's not? What's next?

29 June 2015 16:00
The Future of Digital Government: What's worked? What's not? What's next?

Synopsis

The UK has a reputation for being a world leader in Digital Government: using technology and data to deliver more and better with less. Key developments during the last parliament included the founding of the Government Digital Service (GDS); the creation of GOV.UK and the exemplar transactions (such as registering to vote and viewing a driving licence) and the Digital-by-Default standard.

With a new government in place, this major public event provides an important opportunity to explore the priorities for digital government for the next five years with a panel of experts:

Key questions for debate will include:
  • How should the GDS model evolve over the coming parliament?
  • What actually is Government as a Platform and what progress are we likely to see on it?
  • What’s the role of the private sector in helping deliver digital government?
  • Should digital public services follow the same trends as those in eCommerce?
  • How do we spread the benefits of digital government to local authorities and other parts of the public sector?
Featuring a keynote speech from Mike Bracken, this event will look back at progress over the last parliament and ask: what has worked well, what lessons can be learned, and – most importantly – what should happen next?
Speakers
Mike Bracken: Executive Director of Digital in the Cabinet Office, and head of the Government Digital Service
Matt Warman: MP for Boston and Skegness; former Technology Editor at the Telegraph
Chi Onwurah: MP for Newcastle Central and Shadow Cabinet Office Minister
Laura Citron: Managing Director, WPP Government & Public Sector Practice, author of "me.gov: the future of digital government"
Steven Cox: Executive Director Public Sector, Fujitsu UK&I
Eddie Copeland: (Chair) Head of Technology Policy, Policy Exchange

RSVP

If you would like to attend please RSVP events@policyexchange.org.uk

Venue

The Ideas Space, Policy Exchange, 10 Storey's Gate, Westminster, SW1P 3AY

Anyone who can get there at 4 p.m. this afternoon may have a few questions about what's worked and what hasn't and about what's next.

Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP is Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General and as such the Government Digital Service (GDS) write speeches for him, like the keynote speech he delivered to the National Digital Conference 2015 on 25 June 2015:
This is our chance to build a new state, crafted around the needs of the user. Using the best and most innovative technology to cut costs and improve services.

Not the all-encompassing state of the 20th century, but a state you can hold in the palm of your hand.

And as if to show that the onward march never ceases, the symbol of transformation is no longer the iPhone in your hand, but here, miniaturised in the iWatch on your wrist.

These are exciting times. Technology marches on. And we who see the transformative power of technology, we who would pave the path people travel: we have work to do.
Question 1 – why are GDS putting the words of a simpleton into the minister's mouth?

Friday, 26 June 2015

Spread the verb

Good services are verbs, bad services are nouns

[What's that supposed to mean? Services aren't verbs or nouns (grammatical objects). They're services. Try finding a National Verb Service dentist.]

verbs poster
To a user, a service is simple [Unless it's complicated]. It’s something that helps them to do something - like learn to drive, buy a house, or become a childminder. It’s an activity that needs to be done. A verb that comes naturally from a given situation that cuts across transactions, call centre menus and around advisors towards its goal. [Has any user in the research lab or anywhere else actually said that? Evidence, please.]
But this isn’t how government sees a service. [Phew.]
For government, services [nouns] are discrete transactions that need to be completed in a particular way. Because of this, they need to be easily identifiable so that the people who are operating them can become familiar with them and assist a user to complete the task. So we’ve given these transactions names, nouns, ["name" and "noun" are not synonymous, "red" is the name of a colour in that it denotes that colour but it's not a noun, it's an adjective, and "apply" denotes an action but it's a verb, not a noun, let's not confuse grammar with metaphysics ...] that help to keep track of them. Things like 'Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)' or 'Statutory Off Road Vehicle Notification (SORN)'.
859A1796 (1)img_9426_10279745015_o
'SORNing' a vehicle in order to stop paying tax on it [That's important. We have no trouble in English switching between nouns and verbs and adjectives to achieve the same purpose. That tells us that the grammatical part of speech is independent of the action. Is a gerund a good service?]
The trouble with names like these are [is] that you need to be introduced to them before you can use them, meaning that part of ‘doing a thing’ means learning what government calls the thing you’re trying to do [that's not true, is it, you can paraphrase, you can ask in a foreign language, you can do a Google search, ... is this post itself an example of an applicant seeking a service they can't quite name?].
Imagine walking into [a] crowded room and trying to find a doctor, and only once you’ve learned her name can you ask her to help you. That’s how using a lot of government services works [no, it isn't, the analogy fails].
This confusion drives millions of users to call government call centres for help, or worse [GDS needs to overcome its horror of people], attempt to use a ‘service’ in the wrong way or in the wrong order leading to failure for the user, and vast amounts of unnecessary work for government.
In the past, we used advertising to ‘educate users’ in our nouns, [no, in our services]. Forcing the kind of brand familiarity that came naturally to well used objects like Sellotape, Hoovers or Biros [neither Sellotape nor Hoovers nor Biros is naturally occurring, the analogy fails].
The Directgov advertising scheme that taught the UK to ‘go directgov’ in order to tax a car. [That's marvellous. And what an eye-opener. Almost as if the UK had digital services before GDS existed. "directgov" (naturally occurring?) remains a noun, though – does that make it a bad service?]
But in reality most government services are used only once or infrequently at best [that may be true in reality but in the UK HMRC undertakes 1.24 billion transactions p.a.], so brand familiarity really isn’t very useful [that doesn't follow, you may only rarely use AK47s but it's still useful to know that they're dangerous].
That means people who’ve done it before need to fill in the gap and provide our service for us. For those with the means, that’s a lawyer, accountant, or professional ‘government translator’, for everyone else it’s probably a friend or a family member - whose advice may or may not be right [there's that GDS horror of people again and there's that assisted digital project that keeps on starting].
Quite simply, our services are designed for expert operation, which worked perfectly well when services were provided by trained expert humans, but means that these services don’t work unassisted on the internet [where do all these people go to get training to become expert at using pornography services verbs?].
These noun services [?] aren't helpful. We need to turn them into verb services [?].

Turning nouns into verbs

The first step to fixing this [the problem hasn't been defined yet, it's too early to offer a solution] is [to] find out what your users are actually trying to do when they’re using your service [good idea, who knew?].
Choosing the right verb is difficult [except when it's simple], and will mean that you need to do user research to find out what your users are trying to achieve and how your service fits in with that [good idea, see above].
After several rounds of user testing, the Home Office changed the name of ‘Immigration Health Surcharge’ to ‘check if you need to pay towards your health care in the UK’ ["health", "care" and "UK" are all nouns, not verbs, and what about the possessive adjective "your"? That's not a verb either.] - a service [verb] that allows visitors to the UK to pay for the cost of healthcare [light is dawning – the suggestion is that sometimes a how-to approach to documentation can be helpful, but this is hardly a new suggestion].

Not all verbs are equal [true, but then nobody said they are]

What Verb/s [verbs?] work for users will depend on what your user wants to achieve, but [and] also on how much they know about what government might be able to do for them [and myriad other factors].Copy of Services and service standards - 05-05-2015 (1) [What the government needs the user to do is to apply for a Wildlife Licence, just as much a mixture of nouns and verbs and prepositions and articles as "convert a barn"]

Where your service [verb] starts
Often a user’s perception of what government might be able to do for them is so low that they will skip straight to the noun that they think applies to them [How often? If it's the right noun, that's not a problem].
Our job is to intercept that process. [GDS wants to ban skipping as well as nouns?]
Equally [?] there are things that a user will not presume [then the user will usually be correct] to exist as a single service [verb].
Our job is to understand how that overall task breaks down into smaller tasks a user identifies as something they need help with [hard job].
To add to this, there will be many different users, with many different tasks that will run through a service [verb] that serves many different needs [people are difficult, computers are a lot easier, ...] - like a licence - so a service [verb] might have many different starting points as a user becomes more experienced or their needs become more specific [... they just won't stand still].

Verbs will change the way your service [verb] works [isn't there a bit more to changing services than that?]

In a world of easily shared government as a platform [so not in the UK], services [verbs] will be cheaper and easier to make. When that happens there will be more services [verbs], more closely targeted at user needs.
Service [verb] failure, and the calls and casework associated with it, will remain one of the biggest costs in government [how big?] - and for users - unless we change the way that we work to reflect the needs and language of users.
This isn’t going to be easy. It will mean massive changes to the way that our services [verbs] work as the verb/s [verbs?] we choose to describe them gradually affect what it is they do, but without it we will continue to provide services [verbs] made for a world that no longer exists [dentists are no longer needed?].
We've uploaded the poster shown in the picture above as a PDF. Feel free to download it and spread the word.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

RIP IDA – who knows what they're talking about?

No need to say it, it goes without saying, it should be obvious to all but,
just in case it isn't obvious to all,
IDA is dead.

IDA, now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)",
is the Cabinet Office Identity Assurance programme.
And it's dead.

22 June 2015, and Janet Hughes says:
GOV.UK Verify (RIP) offers people a convenient, secure way to prove their identity when accessing digital government services. It does not have any other connection with or ability to monitor people or their data.
Funny thing to say.

Why did she say that?

And why did she go on to say:
GOV.UK Verify (RIP) protects users' privacy. It has been designed to meet the principles developed by our privacy and consumer advisory group [PCAG]. GOV.UK Verify (RIP) does not allow for mass surveillance.
The answer is, she had to.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

RIP IDA – "we've make a mistake"

No need to say it, it goes without saying, it should be obvious to all but,
just in case it isn't obvious to all,
IDA is dead.

IDA, now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)",
is the Cabinet Office Identity Assurance programme.
And it's dead.



Monday, 15 June 2015

Eat your heart out, Tech City UK

Tech City UK, meet your nemesis – Angers, la Cité des objets connectés.

Connecté avec quoi?

Inauguration de la Cité de l'objet connecté:
De gauche à droite pour dévoiler la plaque inaugurale: Christophe Béchu, Christophe Clergeau, François Hollande et Thierry Sachot. (Photo: Thierry Bonnet/Ville d'Angers)
Connecté avec le string, paraît-il.

RIP IDA – “It’s not our IT system; it’s the Cabinet Office’s”

No need to say it, it goes without saying, it should be obvious to all but,
just in case it isn't obvious to all,
IDA is dead.

IDA, now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)",
is the Cabinet Office Identity Assurance programme.
And it's dead.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offer their parishioners several digital public services, among others Tax credit renewals and Transferable tax allowance. People are having problems using these digital services because they can't get past GOV.UK Verify (RIP).

Public services are services which the public are entitled to. GOV.UK Verify (RIP) is denying the public their rights.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

RIP IDA – security through the looking-glass

No need to say it, it goes without saying, it should be obvious to all but,
just in case it isn't obvious to all,
IDA is dead.

IDA, now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)",
is the Cabinet Office Identity Assurance programme.
And it's dead.

It's been a torrid week for computer security. Worldwide:
  • Over there in the US "the Obama administration is scrambling to assess the impact of a massive data breach involving the agency that handles security clearances and US government employee records ...", the Guardian newspaper told us, "Government officials familiar with the situation told the Associated Press the hack occurred at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Interior Department, and could potentially affect four million people at every federal agency".
  • "Although reports are conflicting about how the OPM discovered the breach, it took investigators four months to uncover it", Wired magazine tells us, "which means the EINSTEIN system failed" – EINSTEIN is the US government's anti-hacking/hack detection system. Or not.
  • Dossiers on US spies, military snatched in 'SECOND govt data leak', says ElReg and everyone else, "China said to have stolen detailed info on employees in sensitive federal positions".
  • Meantime in Germany, "two weeks on from the revelations of a serious cyber attack on the German Bundestag, insiders have told The Register that the tech department is 'clueless' about what is going on ... On Friday it emerged that data had almost certainly been stolen ... As yet techies inside the Bundestag don’t know who is behind the attack – or even when it started ... The Trojan malware which penetrated the entire Bundestag network, including MPs' computers, could have been sitting on computers for months or even years".
But then it always is. A torrid week. For computer security. Every week.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

RIP IDA – Whitehall and eternity

No need to say it, it goes without saying, it should be obvious to all but,
just in case it isn't obvious to all,
IDA is dead.

IDA, now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)",
is the Cabinet Office Identity Assurance programme.
And it's dead.

Here's a selection of Government Digital Service (GDS) posts and a film published in the week leading up to purdah:

24-03-2015
Janet Hughes
25-03-2015
Chris Mitchell
25-03-2015
Janet Hughes
25-03-2015
Janet Hughes
26-03-2015
Janet Hughes and Stephen Dunn
26-03-2015
Mike Bracken
27-03-2015
David Rennie
27-03-2015
Mike Bracken
27-03-2015
Mike Beavan
28-03-2015
Mike Bracken
28-03-2015
Mike Bracken
29-03-2015
Mike Bracken
29-03-2015
Liam Maxwell
30-03-2015
Martha Lane Fox

Let's take a look at David Rennie's 27 March 2015 offering, Working with the private sector to verify identity. It won't take long.