Public Services > Central Government

News in Brief – July 15

Neil Merrett Published 15 July 2016

The UK’s new information commissioner will begin work on Monday, GDS kicks off the first of its local authority ID assurance events and the MoJ issues a tender for monitoring hardware


Elizabeth Denham to take up information commissioner role next week

Elizabeth Denham will commence her work as the UK’s new information commissioner from Monday (July 18).

Denham, who has served as commissioner at the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia in Canada since 2010, will now lead UK initiatives around the Data Protection Act, Freedom of Information Act and regulations on marketing calls and texts.

Denham will head the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) over a five year period, and said she was excited by challenges ahead, which is expected to include helping set out the future of UK data regulation as its look to negotiate an exit from the EU.

“I look forward to working with staff and stakeholders to promote openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals,” she said in a statement.

Deputy commissioner Simon Entwisle had stood in to lead the ICO after former head Christopher Graham stood down last month after seven years in the job.

MoJ issues monitoring hardware tender as part of tagging overhaul plans

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has issued a tender for the supply of electronic monitoring hardware, along with supporting infrastructure, firmware and software services, after opting earlier this year to cancel a contract to develop a bespoke Global Positioning System (GPS) tagging solution.

Under the terms of the agreement, the department is looking to appoint a single supplier to provide the hardware that will support monitoring of individuals with regards to their curfew and location as part of a wider integrated contractor model that is already in place.

The hardware will also be required to detail an individual’s exclusion or inclusion from single or multiple areas as directed by an authority.

Separate agreements for electronic monitoring and field, mapping  and network services have already been contracted, according to the Prior Information Notice (PIN).

The proposed agreement, anticipated to last 36 months, will also see hardware purchased on behalf of organisations including Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), the Home Office, Youth Justice Board (YJB), the Special Immigration and Appeals Commission (SIAC) and the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).  Police constabularies will also be included, according to the notice.

An option to extend the agreement for three consecutive 12 month periods is included under the proposals.

Potential suppliers have until August 8 to express interest or request to participate in the tender.

The notice has been issued after the MoJ announced in February that it would be terminating its contract with Steatite Limited to develop a bespoke GPS tagging solution for offender management.

The department noted that it would opt to procure an alternative off-the-shelf technology currently on the market instead.

In a written statement to Parliament at the time, the government said the contract to develop a tagging system providing monitoring hardware had been "challenging".

The government said it was more appropriate to look at technology that was already available on the back of a review launched last year into the electronic monitoring programme after "considerable delays" had been noted with the technology.

The review process looked at how the programme could be brought back on track to meet future government ambitions, while considering how other nations have looked to develop GPS tagging.

First in series of GOV.UK Verify local authority discovery events held

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has held the first of two discovery days looking at potentially adapting its GOV.UK Verify identity platform to be used by local authorities for specific services like taxi licensing and parking permit functions.

Building on existing work by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the Cabinet Office and the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA), these functions have previously been identified as high priorities for the checking of individual user eligibility.

According to a blog post on the day’s session, 40 individuals representing 27 UK local authorities were involved in an “experimental workshop”.

The following three core aims were set out at the event:

- Understanding local government needs for DVLA data and Verify to support an end-to-end digital service

- Extending GOV.UK Verify and DVLA data to local authorities

- Obtain required information on local authority service, business and user needs to underpin a collaborative discovery project

Among the speakers at the session was Ian Litton from Warwickshire County Council, who discussed the authority’s previous work with GDS and the Open Identity Exchange (OIX) to set out a business case for identity assurance services at a local authority level.

This work was based around the principle of using attribute exchange to transform a number of services by granting permission for a trusted source, such as a DVLA database, to disclose information about an individual to a local authority or service provider for functions like applying for a parking permit.

He argued that this did not provide indefinite access to data sources and ensured that an individual was in control of the data so they can vouch for its accuracy and relevance on specific transactions. 

Feedback from the event that has focused around economies of scale, and opportunities for authorities to influence DVLA and GDS in developing services are expected to now inform later discovery sessions.

A second event is scheduled to be held in Bristol on July 27.

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