Connect with us

Tech

£212m login system on government websites may need to be ditched

The government's flagship digital ID programme, Verify, has been as mismanaged as Crossrail according to a review of major projects, raising questions about the Cabinet Office wasting £212m of taxpayers' money.

Verify was intended to provide a single trusted login across all of the digital services which people might need in the UK, and promised to confirm users' identities within 15 minutes by 2012.

Despite these promises, the platform was launched four years late and still fails to verify individuals' identities in more than 50% of cases.

In its annual report on major projects, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority has now given the Verify project a red rating, ranking it alongside Crossrail as one of the government's biggest failures.

According to the report's codex, a red rating means: "Successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable.

Advertisement

"There are major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable."

According to the infrastructure report: "The project may need re-scoping and/or its overall viability reassessed."

More from Science & Tech

  • New migrants to be tracked by digital IDs post-Brexit, leaked Home Office documents reveal

  • EU fines US tech giant Qualcomm £217m for forcing UK rival out of the market

  • Are celebrities putting themselves at risk by using FaceApp?

  • Excitement as Soyuz rocket set for launch on moon landing anniversary

  • Climate change has displaced 55 species from UK over the last decade, study finds

  • Why you should be worried about the age of algorithmic austerity

A damning investigation into the project by the National Audit Office found it had cost taxpayers' £154m between 2011 and 2018, with the government expected to spend another £58m on Verify through to March 2020.

A report by MPs in May slammed the system as "failing its users and struggling to meet key targets", noting that although an online system went live in 2016, it has "not delivered value for money" and "missed all of its original performance targets".

At the time, a spokesperson for the Cabinet Office claimed the system had "saved taxpayers more than £300m", although the department has never provided proof of this figure.

Even the notion of a "single unique identifier" for accessing government services has been controversial to civil liberties activists, due to concerns about digital ID cards.

The majority of Verify's users are individuals claiming Universal Credit who have consistently found it difficult to use, despite the promises that it would be easy.

According to MPs, just 38% ofUniversal Credit claimants can successfully use Verify when applying for the benefit, which has been dogged by allegations that it has failed the most vulnerable in society.

MPs accused the scheme of demonstrating typical government project failings, including over-optimistic promises and a lack of delivery.

They added that the Cabinet Office had failed to protect taxpayers' interests in securing its intellectual property.

Sky Views: Algorithmic austerity can't be ended by money

In many cases, the government does not understand how its systems work because it has subcontracted their operation to private companies, writes Rowland Manthorpe

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "Verify is a world-leading example of how to enable people to use services securely online.

"This has been a challenging project – but challenges like these are to be expected when the Government is working at the forefront of new technology.

"Verify is now at a point where it can be taken forward by the private sector, so people will be able to safely and securely access both private and public online services."

Four projects were given a red rating in the report: Crossrail; Verify; the ministry of defence's armoured infantry project; and the ministry of justice's compliance enforcement programme.

Continue Reading




Subscribe

Trending