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One Login for Government coming to DBS ‘within weeks’

The Disclosure and Barring Service will be the first government body to deploy the new authentication system.

By Sophia Waterfield

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), which carries out identity checks, will launch its One Login solution within a matter of weeks, the director of the One Login for Government Programme has said. DBS will become the first government service to deploy One Login, which has been designed to provide a single point of access to all public services.

During the Think Digital Identity Conference in London, Natalie Jones OBE, said employers will be able to use the system to log in and request a DBS check. She was giving a talk on her experience in leading the development of the flagship system.

One Login for Government: A user is using a mobile security app and is being asked to provide a pass code.
One Login for Government will only require a single login across all government accounts. (Photo by
Tero Vesalainen/iStock)

One Login for Government is set to replace Gov Verify, the controversial system that allows people to securely prove who they are online using identity providers Digidentity. Citizens could use Gov Verify if they had an account with Barclays, Experian or SecureIdentity. DBS currently still uses Gov Verify.

What is One Login for Government?

One Login for Government is a single sign-on and digital identification solution that will be used by government departments so citizens can access services by verifying their identity.

Speaking at Westminister eForum in March, the Central Digital and Data Office’s (CDDO) director of strategy, Megan Lee, said that focus will be put on citizen experiences when interacting with the government, citing “awful examples” of where it was falling down.

She said that of the 370 services accessible through gov.uk, more than half require a unique account. “If you wanted to try to use all of them, you would need about 40 different sign-in methods to access them,” she said.

Lee also said that the private sector such as energy companies and banks have set the standards for digital user experiences: “As individuals, we interact with our bank, our energy provider, with consumer retail companies in really seamless ways, and that’s where our citizens expect government services to be delivered, the level of quality [that they expect.]” 

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Who will use One Login for Government?

One Login is also one of the six missions in the government’s ‘2022 to 2025 Roadmap for Digital and Data, Transforming for a Digital Future’. Paul Willmott, executive chair, Central Digital and Data Office, said that digital and data were the essential building blocks of all successful organisations and that people expected government services to be as good as the best online experiences in the private sector.

“Rising to meet these expectations will require change on a scale that government has never undertaken before,” Willmott said.

One of the actions from this roadmap is that all government departments “will confirm an adoption strategy and roadmap for One Login for Government by April 2023″. Five pilots for the single solution will begin in September 2022 with Land Registry, Veterans’ Service and DVSA all involved, but DBS is set to be the first department to launch the system.

One Login is being created by Deloitte on behalf of Government Digital Services (GDS). The consultancy has become one of the Home Office’s biggest suppliers in the past five years, and the government has also selected it to develop a smartphone app to verify the identities of people on the electoral roll, which will be brought in alongside One Login.

How will the DBS use digital identity technology?

The DBS undertakes checks on behalf of employers to assess whether a candidate has a criminal record. For healthcare or childcare roles, these checks can be more detailed, and there are four different types of checks the DBS undertakes; a basic check, a standard check, an enhanced check and an enhanced check with barred lists.

Employers will be able to use One Login to request a basic DBS check through their gov.uk account. Jones told delegates at the Think Digital Identity Conference that One Login will provide services with “different levels of assurance”, depending on the level of confidence needed for the process. These are ranked as low, medium and high, and DBS checks will fall under medium, whereas services such as checking a state pension, for example, would be low.

Rob Anderson, research director for public sector at GlobalData, attended the conference, and told Tech Monitor that GDS’ Jones confirmed that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) also has plans to roll out a prototype for One Login; by December there is set to be a pool of nearly three million people who will be able to use it.

This method of authentication is also important for inclusion, Anderson says, as users often drop out of the digital process at the authentication stage because they don’t know the necessary information or don't have the relevant documents. Under One Login and knowledge-based authentication, users could answer questions based on the data already held by the government.

“If it’s DWP, they might ask you about your tax code or how much tax you paid on your pay slip or things like that,” Anderson says.

Has GDS learned from Gov Verify?

GlobalData's Anderson is optimistic about GDS’ progress with One Login and believes that the government has learned the lessons from Gov Verify.

“I was encouraged by the way people were talking about working in a more collegiate manner,” he explains. Government departments are seemingly working together on One Login and getting buy-in from the key departments on it being a strategic way forward, he argues.

While Gov Verify was introduced across all departments at once, One Login is being rolled out more slowly, Anderson adds. This means the team is taking a more agile approach so it can get feedback on what works and what doesn’t and amend the system accordingly

Tech Monitor contacted the Cabinet Office regarding the schedule of DBS’ One Login solution. It said that it was being onboarded and that there would be more information in due course, but declined to put a timeframe on the roll-out.

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