Scottish Government launches project to build online identity-assurance service

Holyrood looks to build platform similar to the GDS’s Verify tool

The Scottish Government has commenced work on building an online identity assurance service that can be used by the public sector across the country. 

The government is looking to build an authentication offering “that supports the landscape and direction for digital public services delivery”. The project – which mirrors the UK Government Digital Service’s creation of the Verify platform – was launched earlier this month, and is currently in the “pre-discovery” phase.

This initial phase will see Holyrood look for appropriate commercial partners with which to work. It will also conduct research into similar projects in other countries, establish a broad plan for project management, and hold discussions with ministers and other stakeholders, as well as industry experts. 

A “discovery” phase will kick off in January, during which service-design professionals will “aim to identify the problem that an online identity-assurance solution might address… [by] exploring the user journey and identification of user concerns and needs”. This phase will also encompass a mission “to identify the technical options for identity assurance, including [how they] fit with the service-provider landscape”.

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As part of this, the Scottish Government will consider whether it could deploy a modified version of Scotland’s existing myaccount online platform for accessing public services, or something built on the GDS Verify offering. It will also look at whether other “emerging technologies” could provide the best option.

“At the end of the discovery project, we [will] seek to identify a plan and resources for the next stage for the delivery of the overall online identity assurance programme,” said the government. “After this, the expectation is to then to move into an alpha to build on and take forward the recommendations of the discovery research.”

Prior to progressing into an alpha-stage service – a phase which is scheduled to begin in April and last for between six and nine months – the project will require additional funding. A total of £150,000 has been committed by the 2017/18 Data, Statistics and Outcomes Budget of the Scottish Government’s Digital Directorate.

This is expected to fund the project through to the end of the discovery phase but, “to continue past discovery, further funding would need to be identified” somewhere within the government’s 2018/19 budget.

Assuming this hurdle is successfully negotiated, the launch of a beta service is pencilled in for October 2018, or shortly thereafter.

The project will be overseen by a programme board, led by Holyrood’s director of digital Colin Cook. 


Sam Trendall

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