The Cabinet Office has confirmed that Nic Harrison is leaving the Government Digital Service (GDS), within which he has led the GOV.UK Verify programme, to return to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
No successor has yet been named, adding an extra question to the implementation prospects for the online identity assurance platform for public services.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "Nic is returning to the Department of Work and Pension in line with his contract. We would like to thank him for his contribution to GDS over the last couple of years and look forward to collaborating with him in his new role at DWP.
“We will announce his replacement in due course."
Harrison, who has been with GDS for two years, largely in the role of director of service design and assurance, had previously been senior programme director for cloud storage at DWP.
His replacement at the head of the Verify programme will face a stiff challenge in increasing its usage for government services and raising the number to 25 million by 2020, in line with the Government’s Transformation Strategy. In May it was reported to have just 2.2 million accounts - two years after its launch - and Harrison acknowledged that the take-up by central government had been slower than expected.
At the Cabinet Office Sprint 18 conference he said GDS was looking at making Verify a federated system that would be more widely used by the private sector. This reflects an initial aim of the Identity Assurance Programme, which emphasised the long term potential for Verify to be used for commercial services.