Wednesday 4 May 2016

RIP IDA – the last rites

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.

We can make a meal of it. Or we can do it the quick way.

Let's try the quick way first. Three steps.

Step one
The Government Digital Service (GDS) have published their ten design principles. These are treated with reverence. No deviation is allowed. Here's the first principle, the most important, the oldest rule in the book:

Step 2
GOV.UK Verify (RIP) was meant to go live last month, April 2016. The system has been in development for four years and it's been in test mode for two years. As late as 26 April 2016 the public were led to believe that GOV.UK Verify (RIP) was "on track" to go live on 29 April 2016.

Three days later, on 29 April 2016, GDS published an embarrassing "update" claiming that they were "nearly there". That is their way of acknowledging that they're still not there, and that GOV.UK Verify (RIP), like many "agile" systems, is in eternal test mode and will never be live.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, one of the most powerful people in the country, took it upon himself yesterday to explain on Twitter that GOV.UK Verify (RIP) is "hugely important" for the government ...

Step 3
... and there we have it – GOV.UK Verify (RIP) is a government need and not a user need.

There has been no public outcry about the failure of GOV.UK Verify (RIP). The public in the main have never heard of GOV.UK Verify (RIP), we don't want it and we don't need it. Alive or dead, GOV.UK Verify (RIP) is of no popular interest.

The only people interested are the government. I.e. the administration. That is, GDS and Sir Jeremy. GOV.UK Verify (RIP) is their need. At least they think it is but, be patronising, "have empathy ... remember that what they ask for isn't always what they need".

GOV.UK Verify (RIP) breaks the most revered rule in the book. It was a ghastly mistake in the first place and its predictable passing should be celebrated. RIP.

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