One Login: Government will ‘review options’ for alternative means of proving identity, minister says
Alex Burghart reiterates commitment to offer options beyond passports and driving licences – potentially including the likes of disabled bus passes
Credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay
Ministers have reiterated a commitment that government’s incoming One Login system will enable users to prove their identity in a wider variety of ways, with plans to review alternatives beyond the existing options of passports and driving licences.
The sign-in platform has been created by the Government Digital Service and, throughout the development process, the technology unit has pledged that the system will be designed to reflect the needs of service users that may not possess the most commons forms of photo identification.
GDS chief executive Tom Read told MPs on the Public Accounts Committee in 2021 that such inclusiveness would be enabled by the use of agile development processes and close collaboration with departments. This contrasts with the construction of the One Login’s now-defunct predecessor GOV.UK Verify, for which “the technology approach and the overall design was baked in right at the beginning”, he said.
“There are people who… have a passport, a driving licence and a mobile phone,” the GDS boss added. “Then there are other users that do not have any of those things, and they have very messy, chaotic lives. And our agile iterative approach has proved that we need completely different solutions for those different types of users, and we are going to be iteratively building them and rolling them out, and we will be able to stop or change at any point on the way through.”
Almost two years on from these comments, One Login is now being used on a pilot basis by an initial tranche of services. This private beta version of the sign-in system allows users to prove their identity via the provision of a passport or driving licence.
But, according to Alex Burghart – the Cabinet Office minister responsible for supporting the work of GDS – officials will shortly begin evaluating and, ultimately, implementing new identity-checking methods. In answer to a written parliamentary question from Labour MP Alex Sobel about the possibility of supporting verification via the disabled person’s buss pass, the minister said that this will be among the possibilities that are considered.
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“We recognise that not everyone has a passport or driving licence and therefore, over time, we will implement other ways for users to verify their identity when using GOV.UK One Login. This is to ensure as many people as possible can access the services they need online,” he added. “This will involve reviewing options to use the disabled person’s bus pass in due course.”
Burghart’s comments come shortly another minister – Baroness Joanna Penn from the Treasury – said that One Login’s ability to support new methods for users to prove their identity will help widen access to HM Revenue and Customs services. The tax agency’s online services are currently accessed via the 22-year-old Government Gateway sign-in platform, which began its decommission process seven years ago – but, after many government bodies chose not to adopt Verify, remains in use.
Penn said: “Accessibility and inclusivity are a priority for the programme and GDS have a plan of activity to improve inclusion over time. Examples include: a wider selection of data sources and options for a customer to use to prove their identity; offline channels available to those who cannot use the online offering. [The] intention to migrate to GOV.UK One Login as the cross-government strategic solution means that HMRC will limit any activity to increase accessibility within Government Gateway and the internal HMRC identity verification services. This is due to the limited remaining window to gain benefit from improvements to those services and the need to avoid duplication of effort.”
A three-year government digital and data strategy published last year set as one of its six core “missions” an objective for all departments to finalise a “roadmap” for implementing One Login by the end of the 2022/23 fiscal year, with a target for universal adoption by 2025. HMRC chief executive Jim Harra is the named senior sponsor of the mission.
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