Wednesday 24 October 2012

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.

We know that GOV.UK is hosted on Skyscape. Or Akamai. But who's going to access it?

25 million hits per month we're expecting on GOV.UK. Maybe more. There's plenty of real estate on screen for Google to serve up ads. But who's going to click on them?

GOV.UK is meant to improve the user experience of dealing with public services. Without identity assurance services, there aren't any users to enjoy the experience.

That's an exaggeration. There will be people browsing the site anonymously. But they've been able to do that on Directgov and Business Link for years.

No users? There's an important way in which that's not an exaggeration. The point of digital by default, Martha Lane Fox's dream, and Francis Maude's too, is to have people registering for services and applying for student loans and paying their VAT using GOV.UK. For that, they need to be identified.

No identity assurance services, no digital by default. At which point GOV.UK starts to look pointless.

The deadlines come and the deadlines go. How much longer is everyone going to have to wait? In particular, how much longer are the millions stuck in the poverty trap going to have to wait?


Update 17.11.13:
A year of departments and policy all in one place
A year of departments and policy all in the same place. A place with no identity assurance.

Update 18.11.13:
HMRC set to go digital:
Mark Dearnley, the new Chief Digital and Information Officer for HMRC, announced ... that HMRC will “become a fully accessible digital business ... The multi-channel digital tax platform will have security at the heart of it. The new Government Identity Assurance Programme platform will be part of that.”
It would help, or at least it should help, but just for the moment there is no identity assurance platform and no sign of it turning up.

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