What Agenda is the new GDS Director, Identity Assurance Programme expected to deliver?

Given speculation about a bio-identity card (linked to NHS data),  the job ad for a “Director, Identity Assurance Programme” has aroused great interest.

What is the “ambitious new cross-government digital agenda” that No 10 and HM Treasury has agreed?

How does it relate to the consultations that DCMS has been conducting on the implementation of its new Digital Identity Policy, Including in the context of the current plague of employment, jobs, education and other impersonation fraud, the launch of UKIFA and the impending launch of an awareness campaign?

The “five major digital identity systems (an numerous authentication services besides” to be unified into one probably refers to the NHS Number, the Pupil Number, the Student Number, the DWP NINO and Unique Taxpayer Reference Number.  But the priority should be to reduce the risk of these being Fogged (the false obtaining of genuine)  rather than merged with their current systemic flaws concealed under a digital overlay.

But it might really mean “digital identity systems” and refer to Gateway, Verify, the Passport Database, the Government Vetting Database and Nominet (which cannot explain why it exists, if it is not to run a robust domain name system for UK-based entities, including for .gov.uk, the NHS and the rest of the UK public sector).

There is also a separate, overlapping need,  to apply robust quality control and auditing to the authorisation, vetting and access management systems used by government, including the use of encryption and robust domain name security to better authenticate public sector websites, e-mails, phone calls (especially over VOIP) and texts.

Whether the role is “Identity” or “Digital Identity” it will indeed require the delivery of a  “complex and high-profile multi-year programme”.

The main challenges are, however, political (all sizes of “P”) and organisational, not digital, data or technology.

They lie at the heart of the new agenda for the “digital transformation of government. It is timely to look at what happened the last time Transformation” was fashionable. This is the DPA response in 2006 to the Cabinet Office Consultation . A team of MPs from across five select committees then reported on the experiences of responsible for trying to join up delivery, whether at the centre, or locally.

Experience in “Significant agile programme management and/or major change delivery” will not be enough.

The appointee will need the skills of Machiavelli  and the luck of the Devil to overcome the many barriers to joining up reference numbers and records, let alone programmes, policy and delivery, across the tribes of Whitehall.


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