GOV.UK Verify slammed by National Audit Office

GOV.UK Verify slammed by National Audit Office

GOV.UK Verify has been criticised in a National Audit Office (NAO) report after only 3.6 million users signed up for the digital identification scheme – way off the 2020 goal of 25 million goal.

The NAO report examines the Government Digital Service’s (GDS) expectation that the flagship identity verification platform would cost £212 million and generate £873 million between 2016 to 2020.

The UK Government claims that drawbacks like this are normal when introducing new technology, despite the initiative’s intention being to become the default identity verification process for online services such as benefits or income tax, for example.

GOV.UK operates in partnership with Barclays bank, identity provider Digidentity, credit reporting agency Experian, the Post Office and verification service SecureIdentity to offer this service. Consequently, all these private sector organisations are certified to verify identity on behalf of the UK government.

The NAO inquiry found that only 19 government services are accessible through Verify - 11 of those still available on other systems. This muddled process is just one of many issues that have emerged after the introduction of the scheme.

BBC reports that only 48% of those who sign up for the scheme are successful on their first attempt and an even lower number of people (38%) who use the system to verify their identity for Universal Credit, which has led to increased cost. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) predicts that it’s spend on manual verification will be £40 million over the next 10 years.

In October 2018, Oliver Dowden MP, made a House of Commons statement that highlighted that the UK’s GOV.UK Verify programme was ready to enter the next phase of development, later revealing that the GDS will take over responsibility for Verify.

In his statement, Dowden said the “private sector will take responsibility for broadening the usage and application of digital identity in the UK.”

Finextra’s The Future of Personal Identity Report 2019 will examine GOV.UK Verify against other digital identity initiatives around the world and question whether the government is the best entity to establish these services, or whether banks should play a part. The report will be published on 18th March 2019.

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