Suppliers welcome PSN compliance changes

Suppliers have welcomed the government’s announcement that it is to make compliance requirements for councils connecting to the public services network (PSN) more flexible.

In an interview with technology magazine Computer Weekly, government chief technology officer Liam Maxwell said that it has adopted an approach based on the individual risk profiles of different councils.

The news comes after a painful process last year, where around 20 councils missed the deadline for compliance with a code of connection defined by the Cabinet Office.

Maxwell told the magazine: “It was a pretty complicated methodology, which was created under the old impact level system. 

“I think the new government security classifications are going to put greater emphasis on proportional risk assessment and give people more flexibility to make their choices.”

Maxwell said in addition to a change of approach, there had been a change in staff on the central PSN team.

Adele Parker, compliance director at supplier body PSNGB, welcomed the comments.

She said: “Whilst the past approach was comprehensive and rigid, it was also impossible to verify, so it gave a potentially false level of assurance.

“A more appropriate and flexible approach, if backed by means to verify compliance assertions, could be both more user oriented and secure.

“PSNGB supports this approach, which could help attract more PSN users and service providers and increase the richness of available PSN services for end users.” 

She said that a huge amount of compliance work was done last year, resulting in a more resilient public sector, giving the opportunity to focus on risk management and the “appropriateness of solutions within the security classifications and other relevant UK legislation”.

She said: “As Liam rightly states, the government security classifications are about managing information safely using appropriate risk management.

“It is all about appropriateness. Equally, simplification of process is welcomed, as long as we can continue to demonstrate the level of assurance that is required for those information decision makers to make appropriate decisions.”

PSNGB said it would be working with the Government Digital Service and the Health and Information Centre on the adoption of PSN by the health community, leading to more collaborative benefits.

Colin Marrs

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