Public Services > Devolved

Scottish Government wants to build online identity-assurance service

Matteo Natalucci Published 14 December 2017

Aim is to develop a common public sector approach to online identity assurance, as part of digital public services; future technical discovery will weigh merits of ‘myaccount’ and GOV.UK Verify


The Scottish Government has outlined in its Digital Strategy document its continuing plans to develop an online identity-assurance service.

It says it has committed to work with stakeholders, privacy interests and members of the public to develop a robust, secure and trustworthy mechanism by which an individual member of the public can demonstrate their identity online, to access public sector digital services.

The aim of the programme is to deliver the commitment to develop a common public sector approach to online identity assurance, as part of digital public services.  Its objectives are to develop a common approach to online identity assurance and authentication for access to public services that supports the landscape and direction for digital public services delivery, including one that is “safe, secure, effective, proportionate, easy to use, and accessible; and forms part of public sector digital services.” 

According to the Programme Plan timeline pre-discovery period ends this month with the discovery project set to run from January to March 2018 and the Alpha phase expected to run from April 2018, for six to nine months. 

The service design element of the Discovery project aims to identify the problem that an online identity assurance solution might address.  This includes exploring the user journey and identification of user concerns and needs.  This will involve user research and co-design, in conjunction with design partners. 

The technical discovery element wants to identify the technical options for identity assurance, including the fit with the service provider landscape. This will be done together with technical partners, the programme plans says. This is expected to include exploration of existing solutions such as Scotland’s ‘myaccount’ (or potential modified versions of it) and UK Verify, and options from elsewhere, including emerging technologies. 

At the end of the discovery project, the Scottish Government seeks to identify a plan and resources for the next stage for the delivery of the overall online identity assurance programme.  After this, the expectation is to then to move into an Alpha phase to build on and take forward the recommendations of the discovery research.  

A new National Stakeholder Group is planned to meet during the discovery, alongside delivery of a range of sector specific actions within the stakeholder plan (e.g. with privacy interests, experts and public sector providers, including public bodies, health, social security, local government and the Improvement Service).

Beta timing will depend on the first 2 phases, although current timings indicate that this is unlikely to commence before October 2018.  

To date, £150,000 has been earmarked for the initial Discovery, which is from the Data, Statistics and Outcomes Division Programme Budget for 2017-18. To go beyond Discovery, the programme says, would require further funding to be identified for 2018-19.

The Scottish government says it is is now seeking feedback and views on the content of the Plan, as it continues shaping the programme over the coming weeks and months.

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