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GDS appoints Public Services Network head

Government Digital Service (GDS) elevates Mark Smith to head of the Public Services Network (PSN)

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has named Public Services Network (PSN) compliance chief Mark Smith as the new head of PSN.

Smith joined the PSN team in 2014 and was instrumental in steering through a number of key changes to the service’s compliance regime.

In a blog post, the government deputy CTO Andy Beale said Smith had also become the “go-to guy” for the PSN stakeholder community, providing guidance to colleagues and building strong relationships around the public sector.

“He is ideally placed to continue the development of the PSN into a network that will bring together a far broader community and help connect those people who can really make a difference at the frontline,” wrote Beale.

Smith will work closely with a number of teams across GDS, most notably the Common Technology Services team on product and solution delivery.

Towards the end of March, Smith oversaw the removal of the £999 compliance charge for those using the GSi Convergence Framework (GSF). The aim was to simplify the service by making it cheaper and easier for public sector organisations to buy what they need to connect to the PSN.

This charge was levied to cover the work needed to complete compliance assessments, and covered GDS’s oversight and management of the compliance process, a source of great controversy in the public sector when PSN first went live.

At one point in December 2013, an unnamed London council came within hours of being disconnected from PSN altogether for failing to comply with extremely prescriptive security rules handed down by the Cabinet Office.

The escalating row ultimately saw control of PSN pass from the Crown Commercial Service to GDS, which has since taken steps to simplify the process.

The changes made to the PSN compliance regime have enabled GDS to remove the service charge. GDS said it would still manage the compliance process with rigour, noting it was “hugely important” that the PSN remained a safe network for people to use.

Services unbundled

The simplification process has also seen the unbundling of core PSN services by GDS.

Before, the 700-plus people in central government and the wider public sector who were responsible for using and paying for services over PSN – such as domain name resolution, email relay and network interconnects – had to pay a single annual charge for these services.

This payment has now been unbundled into individual components to give buyers more flexibility in what services they procure. GDS claimed this would be substantially better value because the separately priced services are cheaper than the bundles, even if all possible services are bought.

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