GDS Blog: Introducing our first #VerifyLocal pilot plans for councils

9 Sep 2016, 10:28 am Linda O’Halloran and Irina Pencheva from Government Digital Service

We’re excited to share our vision and preliminary plans to develop working examples of GOV.UK Verify in local authorities. This blogpost will outline the commitments and resources that local councils will need to participate in our first pilots, in addition to outlining what GDS will contribute. You can view the full project agreement in googledocs here, or you can download it here.

If your council can meet our project timelines and fulfill the requirements, we’d like to partner with you, and we’ll do our best to support you through the process of connecting to GOV.UK Verify.

Our vision for #VerifyLocal pilots

Our plan is to work with as many councils as can to meet our requirements and transform each pilot service from end-to-end. Councils will commit to collaboratively redesigning the local service to make it as great as it can be using common standards and GOV.UK Verify. GDS will support the process with service design, user research and technical guidance, business case development, and project coordination.

So, we’re asking a lot of questions up front. This is because it’s important to make sure that those who invest their time and effort in piloting GOV.UK Verify will have the capacity to maintain it going forward and to use it as a tool for transforming other council services thereafter.

GOV.UK Verify accounts will be free to the councils that participate for the duration of the pilot. We aim to use the pilots to develop a commercial model that works for local authorities using the service. We also aim to develop business cases that anyone in the public sector can use to support their service transformation initiatives. (View our first iteration business cases.)

We’re starting with 2 pilot projects

After consulting broadly with the sector, we’ve decided to start with older people’s concessionary travel and residents’ parking permit services. This is because both are services that lots of local authorities are looking to transform, and both could benefit from using GOV.UK Verify. This analysis was based on joint GDS, DVLA and local authority discovery events in July 2016. DVLA will continue to work with GDS on these pilots to inform services they’re building – although their timelines will mean they cannot commence technical work during the piloting phase.

We’re likely to focus on the first-time application for these services, but participating councils will get to collectively decide their highest priority at the beginning of the project.

We hope to support all councils that can make the below-outlined commitments through a fast-paced, delivery-focused, agile process that produces minimal viable products – from a business case that everyone involved can use to demonstrate the value of whole service transformation, to working services in private beta at each local authority.

Summary of what your council will need to participate

The complete summary of project activities and participation requirements is in the brief project agreement (google version – download version). In summary, you’ll need to commit to the following kinds of activities:

  1. Participation: a council team comprised of a single point of contact, and relevant representatives from technical, web, information-security, customer services, and parking/concessionary travel services, must commit to all events, activities and deadlines in the project agreement
  2. Transparency: Agree to work in the open, sharing lessons learnt, and contributing information to support the common business case for service transformation
  3. End to end digital service: Commit to building a service that upholds the principles of the GDS Service Standard
  4. Openness: Councils (and any relevant suppliers) agree that the products created as part of the project remain open source
  5. Standards: Commit in principle to implement GOV.UK Verify in accordance with the Technology Code of Practice, the Identity Assurance Principles, and the Code of Interoperability (we’re aware we’ll need to adapt these procedures to work for local government and we’ll use the pilots to agree new terms that work. However, it’s important at this stage that you understand the kinds of things your council will need to do to connect a live service to our hub safely and securely).
  6. Ownership: You must manage the service in-house and have the ability to change any part of the service, from web forms to CRM, throughout the project period. If suppliers are required to make these changes, you need their commitment to working within the terms of the pilot.
  7. Senior buy-in: A second senior manager (including to your chief information security officer or SIRO) must sign up to the project agreement. It’s not a legally binding commitment, but we need evidence that there’s enough communication and broad buy-in across the council to ensure that we don’t face too many unexpected obstacles before go-live. Signatories can include your CEO, CIO, CTO or Head of IT, CDO or Head of Digital, CFO, your Head of Service, or your council’s Digital Leader (such as a councilor).

GDS’s commitment to councils that join the pilot

For our part, we’ll support the project in kind through:

  1. Co-ordination – managing the pilot project from end-to-end, tracking and driving progress, running group events, publishing outputs and lessons learnt and convening the fortnightly sprint calls
  2. Guidance and advice – we’ll provide guidance and templates for the service redesign, producing a common service plan to support all councils in redesigning their service
  3. User research – providing user research guidance and providing user research lab time
  4. Business case support – developing business cases to support the transformation of this service and others
  5. Communications – publishing all pilot outcomes in a user-friendly format on our project page, from the business case to ‘how to’ guidance
  6. In-kind contribution – providing free GOV.UK Verify accounts for private beta
  7. Integration support – working with all partner local authorities to prioritise how we best support the integration of GOV.UK Verify.

How to get started

While the list might look a bit daunting, our intention is to flag all the kinds of things your council would need to do over the next 9-12 months. We hope it allows you to make an informed decision to work with us, and to start lining up any resources that you might not yet have. Likewise, if it’s clear that you won’t be able to do the kinds of things in the plan, we hope the list helps you prepare to work with us in the future.

To join in the pilot, fill in this application form by 26 September and we’ll be in touch by early October to schedule our first group discovery event. If you think you are close to meeting all requirements, but you’re not sure about 1 or 2 of them, you can book in a call to discuss the pilots with one of our team before applying using this sign-up sheet.

You can view the full project agreement in googledocs here, or you can download it here.