Press reports that head of GOV.UK Verify stepping down

Nic Harrison is leaving GDS and returning to the Department for Work and Pensions after two years in post. The problem: no successor is as yet in place for the UK’s flagship Digital Identity scheme

Posted 28 August 2018 by Gary Flood

The civil servant who has been leading the charge on all things Digital Identity in Whitehall, Nic Harrison, is leaving the Government Digital Service and returning to his previous home, the Department of Work and Pensions.

The news was broken just before the Bank Holiday by public sector IT news site UKAuthorITy, which obtained this confirmatory quote from the Cabinet Office on his departure:

“Nic is returning to the Department of Work and Pension in line with his contract. We would like to thank him for his contribution to GDS over the last couple of years and look forward to collaborating with him in his new role at DWP.

“We will announce his replacement in due course.”

Harrison’s been at GDS for two years, mainly as director of service design and assurance, and had been the lead on GOV.UK Verify in that time – indeed, he spoke in just that capacity at the first of 2018’s two Think Digital Identity for Government conferences (more of which in a second), where he keynoted on the context and future of Verify from an international perspective.

Harrison had previously been senior programme director for cloud storage at DWP, and can be expected to find a similarly important role there soon – but UK Digital Identity supporters may well be disturbed by the news, and look for a swift replacement to confirm on-going government commitment to the scheme.

But we are sure that by the second Think Digital Identity for Government conference in November, a successor will be in place – and one we will strongly endeavour to come and outline their thoughts on the next chapter for Verify, which famously still only has 2m-plus users when the official target is more like half the population by 2020.

Keep an eye on the constantly-refining agenda here – but for even better measure, ensure your participation in the event, which is your best chance as a Digital Identity practitioner or supplier to find out the latest strategic thinking around the topic at the highest levels of government and the market itself, here.