Verify service manager sought to lead GDS expansion ambitions
Role, which carries a maximum salary value of £70,000, is anticipated to put in place vision for building user base across the wider public sector, as well as potentially for private groups
The Government Digital Service (GDS) is seeking a service manager to oversee its work in trying to expand uptake of the GOV.UK Verify identity platform from its existing user base of 1.16m people by 2,400% in the next three years.
In a post announcing the planned recruitment, the new service manager position is intended to help put in place a vision for the platform, which is designed to be adopted for use by multiple departments, public sector authorities, and potentially private organisations as well. A key focus of the role, which will carry an annual salary of up to £70,000, will be in working with civil servants around adopting the identity platform for key services they want to offer online access to.
GDS said that in the next year alone, work was expected to move forward with efforts to link the platform to a growing number of government services, including select functions for local government.
“It will expand the means of assuring identities to encompass lower levels of identity proofing, as well as integration with international identity schemes to cover more people than ever before,” said the post.
According to GDS, the preferred candidate for the service manager positions is expected to be experienced in leading lean or agile teams, as well as having a track record in delivering high profile products and services. A deadline to receive applications for the position has been set for March 28.
With Whitehall committed to wider public sector use and integration of the platform with identity solutions being used in other countries, questions remain over potential areas of expansion.
GDS’ own performance platform for Verify notes that twelve central government services are presently connected to the platform, short of the 20 that had been targeted for the end of April 2017.
In terms of local government meanwhile, GDS earlier this month moved forward with two pilot projects for local councils to provide identity assurance for travel passes and residential parking permit applications. Both projects are now in alpha.
The potential to use Verify accounts as a means to access health and social care also remains uncertain, despite GDS aspirations to commence work in the area.
Just last month, Essex County Council told Government Computing it was considering using Verify with a view to adoption across its services.
Councillor Stephen Canning, the Cabinet Member for Digital Innovation, IT and Customer Services has expressed strong interest in the potential of the platform for its operations.
“I don’t think there is a service we have where it wouldn’t be useful. If we’re already providing something or they are paying us council tax, we’ve already got that sort of file and we’ve already got their proof of identity, requirements that they’ve had to give us for other different applications they’ve made, if they can then verify their identity in a reliable way, there’s no reason for us to ask them a whole range of other questions that we do for pretty much every service,” he said.
NHS Digital says it is yet to take a decision on a preferred means of providing secure access to its online services either via existing government solutions such as Verify and Government Gateway, or via something more bespoke or commercially available.
However, it is understood that a preference by healthcare authorities to make use of a common identifier such as the NHS number will not be compatible with Verify’s focus on employing third party identity providers to undertake checks, removing the need to create a centralised government database of information.
Additionally, the system may face similar challenges in aligning with the incoming EU regulation on Electronic Identity, Authentication and Signatures Regulation (eIDAS), which requires interoperability with other member states systems.
Under the electronic identification component of the regulation, sources working in the data protection sector argue that interoperability in Europe will require a consistent identifier, whether this might be the UK-specific National Insurance (NI) number or another similar concept.