New Verify chief stresses importance of market engagement

Lisa Barrett has joined GDS as director of digital identities

The Government Digital Service has appointed former Ministry of Justice chief scientific advisor Lisa Barrett to lead GOV.UK Verify itowards its new future under private-sector management.

In a blog post, Barrett, who has been appointed to a role as GDS’s director of digital identities, picked out three priorities. The first of these is “rapid alignment” of the plan for the future of Verify – responsibility for which will next year be handed over to five of its commercial partners.

The second priority for the months ahead is “engagement with identity providers and others in the market, to ensure we are supporting the growth of this market”, Barrett said. The final objective, meanwhile, is “delivering an excellent service that meets user needs, supports government and has the flexibility needed to grow with future plans”.

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“Digital identity is a vital issue not only for government transformation – as has often been our focus – but also for users who benefit from a safe, effective and functioning digital economy underpinned by strong digital identity solutions,” Barrett said. “People will rely on a robust digital-identity system in order to access critical services. They also need to know their data is safe and being used in the right way. And they expect a level of simplicity that they can navigate and understand.”

Barrett arrived at GDS about a month ago, joining from the MoJ, where she worked for two years and latterly served as director of analysis, data-driven department and culture change. Prior to arriving in government in 2017, she “spent most of [her] career in start-up organisations”, including stints with venture capital outfit Mustard Seed Impact, and learning platform provider Coursera.

As Verify heads for life outside of government, Barrett said that her work with digital identities forms part of a broader picture of increased collaboration.

“GDS is increasingly focused on more collaborative relationships with government departments, including by being involved in solving problems earlier,” she said. “For example, if we want to solve the issue of connected data and user journeys, we need to look at identity as well. We are also focused on partnering with the private sector to innovate and open up new markets.”

Sam Trendall

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