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.

Experienced consultants like IFF Research will be quite used to that. It always takes a while for the client's real requirements to come to light. By now they will have established a more accurate picture, with seven known identity providers and a mystery one:
How will the interviews go, as IFF Research set about their market research?

IFF: (to person in the street) The government is trying to cause an ecosystem of private sector suppliers to flourish. Would you feel comfortable using Visa as an identity provider?
PITS: yes.
IFF: well they're not on the list. How about Cassidian?


IFF: (to person in the street) The government is trying to cause an ecosystem of private sector suppliers to flourish. Would you feel comfortable using Ingeus as an identity provider?
PITS: are you sure that's how it's pronounced?
IFF: shall I put you down as a don't-know?


IFF: (to person in the street) The government is trying to cause an ecosystem of private sector suppliers to flourish. Would you feel comfortable using Mydex as an identity provider?
PITS: why's it called Mydex? What does it mean?
IFF: I have no idea, the question is would you feel comfortable ...
PITS: any particular reason why I should trust them?
IFF: I ask the questions.


IFF: (to person in the street) The government is trying to cause an ecosystem of private sector suppliers to flourish. Would you feel comfortable using Verizon as an identity provider?
PITS: I thought they were a US mobile phone network.
IFF: they are.
PITS: so how are they going to verify my identity for the UK government?
IFF: I don't know.


IFF: (to person in the street) The government is trying to cause an ecosystem of private sector suppliers to flourish. Would you feel comfortable using a completely unknown supplier represented on this picture by a yellow question mark as an identity provider?
PITS: yes.
IFF: thank you.


IFF: (to person in the street) The government is trying to cause an ecosystem of private sector suppliers to flourish. Would you feel comfortable using digidentity as an identity provider?
PITS: is this a wind-up?
IFF: thank you.

IFF: (to person in the street) The government is trying to cause an ecosystem of private sector suppliers to flourish. Would you feel comfortable using the Post Office as an identity provider?
PITS: the Post Office isn't a private sector supplier.
IFF: Yes it is, look it up on the Companies House website, company number 02154540.
PITS: you mean I can buy shares in it?
IFF: no, the shares in the Post Office are all held by Royal Mail and the shares in Royal Mail are all held by Vince Cable and he's not selling any but otherwise it's a private sector company.
PITS: who's paying for all this identity-providing lark?
IFF: the Department for Work and Pensions, to get Universal Credit going.
PITS: so there's nothing private sector about this at all, is there?
IFF: no, you're right, the private sector element is one of GDS's many fantasies.
PITS: pleasure talking to you, I'm sure, can't wait to see your report.
IFF: don't hold your breath.


IFF: (to person in the street) The government is trying to cause an ecosystem of private sector suppliers to flourish. Would you feel comfortable using Experian as an identity provider?
PITS: yes.
IFF: why? What's the matter with you?
PITS: that's a job they already do, isn't it, they've already demonstrated their competence, unlike any of the other suppliers on your picture.
IFF: is that true?


Why did all the banks and credit card companies refuse to become official identity providers? Why aren't there any UK mobile phone companies among their number? How long will this farce be allowed to continue? How much will it cost us? Will anyone be accountable?

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