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HMRC CIO: Government failing the public without ID assurance

Phil Pavitt was speaking at Ovum’s Industry Congress event yesterday in London

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) CIO, Phil Pavitt, has said that if the government doesn't implement identity assurance across its central government departments it is failing the needs of the public.

Speaking at Ovum's Industry Congress event yesterday in London, Pavitt said that IT in government was about offering "frictionless" services to the public, which he argued cannot be achieved without identity assurance.

"I think the large government organisations need to give the public what they need to go about their work," he said.

He added: "We don't currently have ID authentication in UK government. So if you have to go across a number of departments and come in and out of them individually to access services, we are clearly failing the public."

"You should be able to go in, access services and move sideways across departments. That's a massive challenge that faces us."

In March of this year the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) revealed plans that will see it be the first central government department to roll out identity assurance services, in a project that is set to cost £25 million.

The framework was issued to support the government's digital by default policy, where all major public service provider departments will adopt identity assurance plans, for users accessing government services.

Pavitt also spoke about technology innovation within government and said that government is often very guilty of "coming up with big answers to questions that nobody is asking".

"Internal innovation is about understanding what we actually need, and for HMRC this actually meant going back to paper for one process. This was the most efficient, the most effective and the fastest," said Pavitt.

He added: "We have become very user-centric. We are not arrogant enough in the IT team to tell people what they should have. We provide the platform and the tools from which they can choose, and the bottom line is that this means that their needs are being meet and the pressure is taken off the IT team."

"We don't have to invent and innovate as much because they are getting what they need."

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