Skip to the content

Scotland to get its own system for online ID assurance



Programme plan from Digital Directorate points towards national alternative to GOV.UK Verify

The Scottish Government’s Digital Directorate has begun work on an online identity assurance and authentication mechanism for the country’s public services.

In a move that apparently mirrors the development of the GOV.UK Verify platform by Whitehall’s Government Digital Service (GDS), the directorate has taken the first step in preparing a programme plan with the objectives and a timetable for the early phases.

It points to a common approach for access to digital public services, aiming for something that will have the support of the public and other stakeholders. Among the priorities are that it will be easy to use, secure, proportionate and provide the appropriate levels of privacy.

A pre-discovery phase is coming to an end this month, with the full discovery set to run from January to March next year. This will include a service design element and user research to identify the main problem, and a technical discovery element to highlight the options.

This is expected to take account of Verify, along with the myaccount online sign-in developed by Scotland’s Improvement and other possibilities.

Alpha stage

This will be followed by the creation of a plan and allocation of resources for the alpha stage, which is expected to begin in April and run for six to nine months. The timing becomes less certain for the beta stage onwards, although it is not expected to get under way until October 2018 at the earliest.

A fund of £150,000 has been allocated for the discovery phase, coming from the Data, Statistics and Outcomes Division Programme Budget for this financial year.

A separate stakeholder plan is also being developed. This will include the creation of a national group including local authorities, other public bodies, privacy groups, industry experts, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Scotland and third sector groups.

Roger Halliday, chief statistician and data officer for the Scottish Government, is the senior responsible officer for the programme, which will also have a board with members from local government, the ICO, health and social and the Ingage Team for open government.


The move suggests that the Scottish Government wants an alternative to Verify, although the programme plan says this will also involve working with GDS, and there have been indications that the directorate has no preconceived ideas about the final shape of any solution.

It has emphasised its desire for a common approach to online identity assurance and authentication, with reference to “supporting the Scottish landscape and direction for digital public services delivery”.

The plan spins off the Scottish Government Digital Strategy, which was published in March of this year and includes a commitment to develop digital public services around user needs.

Image by Jeremy Keith, CC BY 2.0 through flickr


Register For Alerts

Keep informed - Get the latest news about the use of technology, digital & data for the public good in your inbox from UKAuthority.