GDS chases dream of “simple and joined up” experience with One Log-in for government

Challenge for GDS is how to make One Log-in for government digital identity work for everyone

Posted 28 September 2021 by Christine Horton

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has reiterated its plan for different government departments to be able to sign up for its One Log-in digital identity service.

GDS CEO Tom Read was speaking at the Building the Smarter State conference staged by IT industry association techUK.

Currently, departments delivering government services currently have to build or buy their own sign-on and identity services, resulting in people having to enter the same information multiple times when accessing different services.

Read however said it is a key element of the GDS effort to “work in really close partnership with all the other bits of government to build up the vision of a simple, joined up and personalised experience of government for everyone”.

Read said that One Log-in for government is currently its most important piece of work and will provide a single way for users to prove who they are in logging into any government service, UKAuthority first reported.

Finding what works for everyone

He added that GDS has learned from experience that there is need for different methods for different groups of people.

UKAuthority noted that while 75-80% will be able to take the “happy path” of using a chip in their passport and a video selfie along with existing data held by government to prove who they are – as opposed to the reliance on third party identity providers in the ill-fated GOV.UK Verify programme – three minority groups would need different approaches.

One is “edge users” – the very old, very young or people who lead chaotic lives – who do not have access to the technology or lack the documentation from government, utilities or financial institutions to provide verification.

“We’ll build an identity checking service that works for all of them,” Read said. “It won’t look and feel exactly the same for each different person and they will have different user journeys. We’re not going to declare victory until this works for everybody.”

The second group are people who have others operating on their behalf, whether they are professional or business users or individuals who need support in dealing with government. Read acknowledged the requirements for this group are complicated and said GDS has not yet seen how to deal with them but is working on the issue.

Third are people who could use digital services but don’t want to because they do not want government connecting their data. He said this should be respected and an alternative path found.

“It’s unlikely to be as seamless,” he said. “Using the digital and data channels, the whole point is to make it much simpler and faster for people, but we will never force people to use the digital solution.”

The One Login for government pilot is scheduled to go live with a small number of government services by next Spring.