Sunday 30 September 2012

30 September 2012, a big day – Dame Helen Ghosh and ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken

30 September 2012. It's a big day today. Dame Helen Ghosh's last day as permanent secretary at the Home Office. What will change when she's gone?
    • Will Sarah Rapson, chief executive at the Identity & Passport Service (IPS), be allowed to carry on over-charging us Brits for passports to the tune of £300 million a year?
    • IPS has never recovered from its failure under Sir David Normington and James Hall to implement government-issue ID cards. They suffered something like a corporate nervous breakdown. Isn't it time now at last for a new name and a re-launch?
    • Will Jackie Keane be able to carry on spending money like water on IABS, the Immigration and Asylum Biometric System?
    • Will assistant commissioner Mark Rowley at the National Policing Improvement Agency stop wasting money on mobile fingerprint equipment?
    • Will Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the UK Border Agency (UKBA), be able to maintain the high standards and success rates of that organisation?
    • Will Brian Moore's successor as chief executive of the UK Border Force ditto?
    • Isn't it time now to stop hosing money at CSC and VF Worldwide Holdings for their biometrics-based visa application work abroad?
    • Will IBM be allowed to stop bashing its head against the brick wall that is eBorders?
    • Is Alex Lahood (the Director of Identity Management, no less, at UKBA, please see p.9) still testing biometrics in Croydon? If so, why?
    • Is Marek Rejman-Greene still Senior Biometrics Advisor at the Home Office Scientific Development Branch? Ditto.
    These are just some of the questions for Dame Helen's successor to ponder.

    Today is also the last day for the Government Digital Service (GDS) to announce the approved suppliers of the UK's much-touted Identity Assurance Service (IAS). It really is a big day.
    • Will GDS meet the deadline? (Six hours to go ...)
    • Will they dare appoint Google and Facebook as "identity providers" to the UK?
    • If not, will the NSTIC folk in the US cross them off the Christmas card list?
    • Will Martha Lane Fox ditto?
    • When Universal Credit fails, will DWP get the blame or GDS?
    • Will the Department for Business Innovation and Skills stop pretending to want midata?
    • If ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken (executive director of government digital services and senior responsible officer owner for the identity assurance programme) can't make Estonia come to the UK, will he go there?
    • Will GDS's dream of inserting GOV.UK into our national payment systems come true? If so, how many weeks before we are reduced to a barter economy? Two? Or one?
    • Will GOV.UK replace the Government Gateway?
    • Will GDS's IAS succeed where James Hall's ID cards failed?
    • Can GOV.UK operate successfully on a cloud service operated by Skyscape, the one-man company?
    These are just some of the questions that probably won't be answered tomorrow.

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