Britain's opposition Labour party is calling on the government to urgently address its gaffe-prone identity assurance system "Verify" – the key component in getting citizens to use transactional digital services – or face an official investigation.
The party made the recommendation for an investigation into the Government Digital Services' (GDS) Verify system in its digital review: Making Digital Government Work for Everyone, an independent report commissioned by Labour.
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Whitehall is hoping to shift all government departments over to the Verify scheme by March 2016. But there are already major problems with its initial roll-out across the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments scheme.
The programme is running "significantly behind" its launch date of Autumn 2012, said Labour.
It said: "Given the continuing delays and the significance of this component of the digital strategy, we have to recommend that if the identity assurance programme is not in a more stable position before the next government takes office that it investigate the reason for the delays before committing to how to proceed."
It added: "Government has announced rollout plans for the next six months and the absence of any service outside of those provided by central government is noticeable."
Labour has previously remained non-committal about whether it would retain GDS if elected, but the review appears to suggest that the design and coding house would survive a Labour government in some form.
However, while praising GDS's work, it said that the body "has yet to take the leap towards a genuine national transformation".
It added that the failures of the Universal Credit programme have demonstrated the potential of large complex programmes enabled by digital technologies to go massively wrong.
Labour is also recommending that regulator Ofcom produce a report on a universal service obligation for internet access within 90 days of the next government taking office. ®