A quiet, but major, shift in who decides GOV.UK Verify’s future

Responsibility for the policy side of the country’s flagship federated Digital Identity scheme has been quietly moved from GDS to another part of Whitehall – the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Posted 19 June 2018 by Gary Flood

You might not have noticed – but there was a major shift in ownership of the country’s chosen digital identity scheme, GOV.UK Verify, earlier this month.

That’s because responsibility for policy was quietly moved from GDS (the Government Digital Service) to another part of Whitehall – the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The move was made without any official statement, as far as we can see, at least, on any part of GOV.UK, including the main Verify blog pages, which haven’t been updated since March 2017, rather oddly.

The move’s ramifications are a little complex, but as we understand them the responsibility for the development and on-going rollout of Verify will remain with GDS, and DCMS will not be providing any accreditation for individual digital-identity services or recommend any specific Identity solutions.

What DCMS will be doing: shape further Digital Identity policy, especially the provision of services by both public- and private sector organisations, including, somewhat remarkably, tools other than Verify itself.

The move is being rationalised as part of a general shift over to DCMS of all digital and data policy for the whole of Her Majesty’s Government, starting with an April port of data policy, governance, and data-sharing out of from GDS, which is believed to have covered the physical move of 15 or so civil servants.

As it stands, Verify works by a federated approach based on verified ID proof by commercial partners like the Post Office, Barclays and Experian, and was the focus of a highly successful conference involving senior stakeholders from central government, the wider public sector and suppliers last month, Think Digital Identity For Government 2018.