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UK's Government Digital Service extends contracts with Post Office and Digidentity for wobbly Verify ID system

Now they've got £5m to try to stop it falling over again

The UK's Government Digital Service (GDS) has signed contract extensions worth £5m with Digidentity and the Post Office for an online identity service which recently fell over.

The two companies support Verify, which the government created to offer citizens access to a range of online services through one identity. According to tender notices, the Post Office has been awarded contracts worth £2.9m and £328,000 while the Dutch digital identity vendor has been given deals worth £1.7m and £192,000 to support the service for another year.

In a perfectly timed moment of digital karma, the service the companies provide decided to start exhibiting technical problems on 4 June that have yet to be resolved.

In a service status notice, Verify said the Digitentity and the Post Office were "experiencing issues" which the companies were "continuing to investigate."

"This is effected [sic] a number of users. This is a situation where users are able to enter financial details, but the chance of them being accepted based on those is very slim. No other services are impacted by this issue," the service update said.

Digidentity was said to be "looking into this as a matter of urgency."

No further updates to the status delivery page have since been added, a week later.

A Post Office spokesperson said: “We are aware of the current issue with the service. We are actively working on finding a solution to resolve it.”

The Cabinet Office has so far declined the opportunity to respond to the latest outage.

It is not the first time the services have struggled. In 2016, the Department for Work and Pensions looked into developing its own identity management system as the GDS's Verify management was delayed.

Verify hasn't been the digital identity project the government hoped it would be: some 25 million people in Britain were supposed to have signed up to it by 2020 but as of March 2019, just 3.6 million had done so. The project was criticised repeatedly by the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee. ®

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