Dmitry Naumov - Fotolia Verify misses April go-live target

The Government Digital Service didn’t meet its target of taking identity assurance service Verify out of beta by the end of April, but is “nearly there”, according to programme director Janet Hughes

The government’s identity assurance platform was due to switch from beta to live at the end of April, but is still completing “the final steps”.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) had set a go-live date of 29 April 2016 for its Verify platform, which is intended to be the standard way for people using online government services to prove their identity and to log in to complete transactions. 

In a recent interview with Computer Weekly, Verify programme director Janet Hughes said she was confident everything was on track to meet the go-live target. However, in a blog post published on 29 April, she wrote that while the team had been working hard to get the service ready for live, it was not there yet.

“We’re very nearly there. We’ve finished the technical work we need to do to go live and we’re in the process of completing the final steps before removing the beta label,” she wrote in the blog post.

The main reason was that GDS hadn’t yet finished its service standard assessment process, which was the “last action required before we can remove the beta branding”.

Hughes previously told Computer Weekly that the go-live of the system, which has been available to the public as a beta test version since October 2014, wouldn’t be a big change and was only the beginning of a long journey.

“Although the go-live is meaningful and significant as a stage in the evolution of the programme, it’s actually the start line, not the finish line,” she said.

Fifteen services are ready to start using the system when it goes live, with a further 50 – from 10 departments – to follow shortly after.

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“We’re expecting them all to pick up speed once we’re live,” said Hughes.

The roll-out of the system has proved to be more complex and taken longer than originally planned. However, it has picked up speed. In July 2015, GDS said it aimed for 700,000 users by November 2015. In April 2016, 500,000 identities had been verified using the service. Verify works by having users register with one of eight approved third-party identity providers, such as Experian and the Post Office, which perform the identity checks required to verify an individual. Once verified, the company confirms electronically to the GDS that the individual is allowed access.

Hughes said there are now 50 different types of evidence and data sources that can be used for citizens to prove their identity, including mobile phone contracts and bank accounts.

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