by Richard Steel

Identity management and local government

Aug 04, 20083 mins
IT Strategy

“Byte Night” is the IT Industry’s annual sleep-out in aid of NCH (National Children’s Homes) being held this (the 10th anniversary) year on Friday 3 October. I’ve signed-up to take part in a Team of 5 CIOs put together by We had an introductory teleconference at 8.30, this morning, in which JP Rangaswami, CIO of BT Design, briefed us based on his experience last year. The good news is it’s for a very good cause; the not-so-good, I’ll be seeking sponsorship! More news soon.

Adrian and I met Steve Reynolds, Chairman of the Mobile Data Association, for lunch at the Axis Restaurant, One Aldwych, to discuss the relationship between our organisations. Steve Palmer set-up the meeting following an encounter with Steve at the CMA (Communications Management Association) Conference, but was unable to attend himself. We agreed upon a number of areas of co-operation – including a shared forum/ work area, collaboration on campaigns and research and work around “the mobile Olympics”. Digital convergence will be a key theme.

I’d been told (by Geoff, and others) that the DCLG’s William Barker has been trying to contact me (although have had no messages or emails) so when I learned that Adrian was off to Eland House to meet with him, I decided to postpone work on our Issues & Actions List to accompany him and Mark Brett, who met us there. William was suitably honoured to meet with us all at the same time!

I’m glad I attended. William briefed us on developing pan-government strategy in the key areas of identity management and authentication. By next spring it’s hoped to present high-level strategy, and identify incremental development successes to date. It will have set-up self-help communities, in which Socitm can play a key part, to foster proactive engagement by the whole public sector. First thoughts are that Socitm can help in three areas:- The Local Public Sector CIO Council will have an advisory role in central government; It will develop a series of measures for the local government family to put in-place to ensure it’s ready to engage in the identity strategy; it will create deliverables and services to facilitate engagement.

This is exactly the sort of engagement that I feel is needed for Socitm to support effective Transformational Government. William understands that our aim is to be an effective critical friend, not a government “mouthpiece” – but we are very keen to help to articulate cohesive and realistic strategy and facilitate roll-out across the public sector. We did discuss the need to regain public confidence, and William has already been invited to join the forum we have set-up to deliver the vision and its communication.

He went on to brief us on a couple of other matters, including the UK Borders Agency’s scheduled introduction (on 25th November) of a “UK Resident’s Permit” – a smart card with biometric – for foreign visitors living in the UK, concerning which there have so far been no briefings to Local Government, which will need to know how to recognise these, and what to do with them! “What to do with them?” Well, nothing, for the time being – but a voluntary card for young people, aged 16-25 – is also to be introduced that could be used as proof of age or as a travel document, and it’s aimed to develop pathfinder opportunities; for example, linked to 2012 developments.