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DWP to begin private beta roll-out of CIS database

The Department for Work and Pensions has been giving its customer information system an overhaul, and will begin deploying it to a limited number of users this month

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has developed a new version of its customer information system (CIS) – the database holding records on UK citizens.

CIS aims to provide an overview of the personal details of anyone who has a national insurance number and is the government’s main citizen database. The service is also used by several other departments and local authorities.

In a blog post, DWP business analyst Rachael Harvey said the system “enables over 90,000 users from DWP, other government departments and local authorities to carry out over 16 million transactions every day”.

Using “agile development methodology and user-centric design”, the team at DWP have worked to build and design a new system, based on user needs.

“Every step of the way we’ve ensured that our designs have been tested with users from across the department, iterated and iterated again before we move from prototypes to building new features,” said Harvey.

The project is now ready to start its private beta phase and will be rolled out to 30 users this month, with the aim of reaching 500 users by Christmas 2016.

“There are tens of thousands of CIS users so we need to ensure we meet their needs in the best way we can to deliver the best service we can to our customers,” added Harvey.

The original Oracle-based CIS was launched in 2005 and has been the subject of several controversies since. The government originally planned to use the system to store ID card biometrics data, as part of the national ID card scheme, which was later scrapped. However, the system failed to gain full security accreditation.

In 2009, nine council workers were sacked for using the system to snoop on the personal records of celebrities and acquaintances. By 2012, a freedom of information request revealed that the number had risen to more than 120 staff being sacked for improper use of the system. 

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