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HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will begin migrating to the government’s One Login digital identity platform next summer.
Speaking at the Think Digital Identity for Government conference today (17 November), HMRC chief technology and design officer Tom Skalycz said this will mean transferring services away from Government Gateway, the department’s identity, authentication and transaction platform.
“In the past, we’ve taken a siloed approach to addressing problems, and government services aren’t as joined up as they should be, which has led us into multiple systems, duplication and a less positive user experience,” he said.
The One Login for Government programme has the objective of simplifying access to central government, said Skalycz, adding that government departments will begin onboarding services to One Login by 2025 and that HMRC will begin migrating its services next summer.
“The aim is to replace the Government Gateway authentication that we currently use within HMRC,” he said.
But Skalycz added: “No migration can occur until the service can meet all of our HMRC requirements to an equivalent or better standards than the existing services.” He said the migration will be “transactional” and there will be no automated bulk migration.
The department will first migrate individuals “representing their own tax affairs”, such as users of HMRC’s personal tax accounts, and as the Government Digital Service (GDS) continues to “iterate and improve the One Login for Government offering, the more complex user groups will migrate, with agent and business users likely to be the last to migrate when their use cases are supported”, he said.
If customers have an existing verified identity with HMRC, that will migrate with them, removing the need for them to pass through the full identity verification process again.
HMRC is known for its Government Gateway platform, which is the second-largest digital identity platform in government with about 16 million registered users, and was the first department to break ranks back in 2017 when the government’s previous digital identity iteration, Gov.uk Verify, was introduced.
Instead of migrating services onto Gov.uk Verify, HMRC decided to continue to use and improve Government Gateway.
Read more about government identity systems
- Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove writes to Whitehall departments mandating the use of a new digital identity system that will allow citizens to be tracked across the Gov.uk website.
- Government document includes the launch of the Office for Digital Identities and Attributes, and a pledge that ID cards will not be introduced.
- Government services are lining up to work with the GDS on its One Login digital identity system, according to its director of digital identity, Natalie Jones.
However, the government has since canned Verify, and the GDS is developing the One Login platform, a three-year, £400m project, to create a digital identity system to be mandated for use across government departments.
Skalycz said One Login would give HMRC capabilities it currently doesn’t have, including support for overseas customers, which “we don’t currently support within the HMRC offering”.
He added: “It brings an ability for greater sharing of personal data to reduce the rekeying, with the permission from the individual – although this is part of the long-term vision and isn’t part of the early deliverables and isn’t critical to the core offering.
“In addition to the technical capability, GDS is developing supporting services and the infrastructure required for such a major government service, and key points of that include the customer support services, offline support to help customers who experience an issue when using One Login for Government or struggle to prove their identity online.
“It is moving the offering beyond the ‘happy path’ only, which was a failing of the retired Verify service. This will directly benefit HMRC by moving exception handling from HMRC channels to the central GDS service for migrated customers.”
Skalycz said that during 2020 and 2021, about one and a half million failure demand contacts were generated because of customers needing support through telephone or webchat.
HMRC has already been working with GDS on the beta version of an identity-checking app for people with driving licences.
Although the government is mandating departments to use the One Login platform, it will also be able to coexist with other identity services in government.