GDS signs £ 5million contract extensions with Verify partners to support new registrations through April 2022

Credit: Crown Copyright /Open Government License v3.0

The government’s digital service has granted contract extensions worth more than £ 5million to ensure the two remaining business partners of the identity assurance platform Verify will continue to allow new registrations of ‘users for another year.

As work continues on the development of a new government-wide login system to access citizen services, it was recently announced that up to £ 11million per year will be made available in the interval to support the maintenance of Verify. Public funding was slated to end in September 2021, but new registrations will now be available until April 2022, with existing users supported for an additional year beyond.

The two commercial companies that still offer the creation of new user identities – Digidentity and Post Office – have each signed contracts with GDS committing to continue to do so until April 22.

Recently released public procurement information reveals that two ‘extension and change’ agreements worth £ 1.7million and £ 191,494 have been awarded to Dutch firm Digidentity. Two other commitments, valued at £ 2.94 million and £ 328,134, were signed with the Post.

The four contracts entered into force on March 24, 2021.

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Each covers “the extension of the issuance periods during which the supplier will continue to create new digital identities up to the required level of assurance”, as well as “the increase in the prices to be paid for the first assurance of the identity of the company. ‘a new user’.

Verify offers two levels of assurance; the price of creating new identities at lower level LoA1 is removed from contracts but, for higher level LoA2, both providers will be paid £ 6.50 for each new identity created, according to the documents.

The agreements also deal with “providing for the transfer of copies of user data and trust from the supplier to the authority before the end of contracts”.
To support this transfer, Digidentity and Post Office must offer users signing in to their accounts an option to consent to the transfer of their data to GDS. Companies should also allow the digital agency to notify users that they will need to agree to such a transfer by the April 2022 deadline if they want to continue using their Verify account beyond that date.

The Contacts also require identity providers “to provide a secure means of transferring copies of transferable user data and user trust to the authority or, if the authority so requires, to an alternate provider. “.

Extensions to the four agreements total £ 5.16million. A total of £ 13.2million had already been spent through the contracts before they were signed.

Digidentity and the Post Office are the latest pair of what was once a community of seven trading partners for the Verify tool developed by GDS.

In October 2018, the government announced that it planned to cease providing all public funding for the platform as of March 31, 2020, by which time all future investments in the development and support of Verify were to come from ‘a quintet of identity providers, which included the remaining two, alongside Barclays, Experian and SecureIdentity.

Two others, CitizenSafe and Royal Mail, ended their association with Verify when the impending cut of government funding was announced.

As the expected date of this cessation approaches, demands on the identity assurance tool have reached unprecedented levels, as approximately 2.3 million people re-apply for universal credit. during the first few weeks of the coronavirus crisis – a process that, for the most part, involved setting up a checking account. While three of the five private sector providers of the service are already considering severing ties with the platform, the government has chosen to extend the provision of funding for 18 months longer than planned – until September 30, 2021.

This has since been extended until April 2023.

By then it is expected that the new GOV.UK account system will be in place. The Login Platform aims to replace not only Verify, but up to 100 separate ways to access government services.

Development is again led by GDS and, according to Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary Alex Chisholm, the new platform “is built with the lessons of Verify front and center.”

This means “being co-designed and built in close collaboration with key departments, and with strong oversight” from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority.

The universal credit application process is the most important service that incorporates Verify, which has received generally mixed support from departments since its launch five years ago. It is now only used by 15 other government departments.

About Geraldine Higgins

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