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GOV.UK Verify

Introducing our first #VerifyLocal pilot plans for local councils

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Leamington Spa Town Hall

Over the last few months we’ve been investigating how GOV.UK Verify might effectively be extended to local authorities, and we recently provided the results of our first discovery events.

We are now able to move onto the next stage, as we have our vision and preliminary plans to develop working examples of GOV.UK Verify in local authorities. This blog post will outline the commitments and resources that local councils will need to participate in our pilots, in addition to outlining what GDS will contribute.

If you’re reading this from a local authority, and your council can meet our project timelines and fulfil the requirements, we’d like to hear from you. We'll support all eligible councils through the process of connecting to GOV.UK Verify. Further information on how to participate is at the bottom of this blog post.

Our vision for #VerifyLocal pilots

Our plan is to work with as many councils as we can to meet our requirements and transform each pilot service from end-to-end. Councils will commit to collaboratively redesigning the local service to make it as great as it can be, using common standards and GOV.UK Verify. GDS will support the process with service design, user research and technical guidance, business case development, and project coordination.

So we’re asking a lot of questions up front. This is because it’s important to make sure that those who invest their time and effort in piloting GOV.UK Verify will have the capacity to maintain it, and be able to use it as a tool for transforming other council services afterwards.

GOV.UK Verify accounts will be free to councils that participate for the duration of the pilot. We aim to use the pilots to develop a commercial model that works for local authorities using the service. We also aim to develop business cases that anyone in the public sector can use to support their service transformation initiatives. (View our first iteration business cases.)

We’re starting with 2 pilot projects

After consulting broadly with the sector, we’ve decided to start with older people’s concessionary travel and residents’ parking permit services. This is because they are services that lots of local authorities are looking to transform, and both could benefit from using GOV.UK Verify. This analysis was based on joint GDS, DVLA and local authority discovery events in July 2016. DVLA will continue to work with GDS on these pilots to inform services it is building, although DVLA timelines will mean it cannot commence technical work during the piloting phase.

We’re likely to focus on the first-time application for these services, but participating councils will get to collectively decide their highest priority at the beginning of the project.

We hope to support all eligible councils through a fast-paced, delivery-focused and agile process that produces minimal viable products. This will range from a business case that everyone involved can use to demonstrate the value of whole service transformation, to working services in private beta at each local authority.

Councils interested in working with us can use our discovery research on concessionary travel and parking permits to help make the case to partner with us.

What councils will need to participate - a summary

The complete summary of project activities and participation requirements is in this brief project agreement. In summary, councils will need to commit to the following kinds of activities:

  1. Participation: A council team – comprising a single point of contact, and relevant representatives from technical, web, information security, customer services, and parking/concessionary travel services – must commit to all events, activities and deadlines in the project plan
  2. Transparency: Agree to work in the open, sharing lessons learnt and contributing information to support the common business case for service transformation
  3. End to end digital service: Commit to building a service that upholds the principles of the GDS Service Standard
  4. Openness: Councils (and any relevant suppliers) agree that the products created as part of the project remain open source
  5. Standards: Commit in principle to implement GOV.UK Verify in accordance with the Technology Code of Practice, the Identity Assurance Principles and the Code of Interoperability. We’ll need to adapt these procedures to work for local government and we’ll use the pilots to agree new terms that work, and ensure a safe and secure connection to our hub.
  6. Ownership: Councils must manage the service in-house and have the ability to change any part of the service, from web forms to customer relationship management (CRM) systems, throughout the project period. If suppliers are required to make these changes, councils need their commitment to working within the terms of the pilot.
  7. Senior buy-in: A second senior manager, including the chief information security officer, or senior information risk owner (SIRO) must sign up to the project agreement. It’s not a legally binding commitment, but we need evidence that there’s enough communication and buy-in across the council to avoid any unexpected obstacles at a later stage.

GDS’s commitment to councils that join the pilot

For our part, we’ll support the project in-kind by doing the following:

  1. Co-ordination - managing the pilot project from end-to-end, tracking and driving progress, running group events, publishing outputs and lessons learnt and convening the fortnightly sprint calls
  2. Guidance and advice - providing guidance and templates for the service redesign, producing a common service plan to support all councils in redesigning their service
  3. User research - providing user research guidance and providing user research lab time
  4. Business case support - developing business cases to support the transformation of this service and others
  5. Communications - publishing all pilot outcomes in a user-friendly format on our project page, from the business case to ‘how to’ guidance
  6. In-kind contribution - providing free GOV.UK Verify accounts for private beta
  7. Integration support - working with all partner local authorities to prioritise how we best support the integration of GOV.UK Verify.

How to get started

We hope that this information allows councils to make an informed decision about joining our pilots by highlighting the kinds of things they’d need to do over the next 9-12 months. Likewise, for those that can’t join at this stage, we hope this information helps them prepare to work with us in the future.

If you are from a local council, have read the project agreement and are interested in joining the pilot, please fill in this application form by 26 September. We’ll be in touch by early October to schedule our first group discovery event.

If after reading the agreement you don’t think you meet one or two of the requirements, you can book in a call to discuss the pilots with one of our team before applying using this sign-up sheet. If you have a problem accessing the Google Sheets document, please email us.

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