Terms of reference for a State Services Commission review of the igovt authentication programme are couched in terms of revised ideas about funding and governance and say little of the possibility that the programme might be discontinued.
However, industry sources experienced in government projects see this as a distinct possibility.
There continues to be less enthusiasm than anticipated in government agencies for all-of-government projects, says one source; the larger agencies, certainly “think they can do these things a lot better than the people at the centre”.
The Terms of Reference document itself, refers, albeit in passing, to assessing “the viability of the [authentication] programme in the current economic climate”.
SSC spokesman Jason Ryan points out that the project is now in a very different environment from when a common authentication service was fist mooted in 2002 or even when it was launched with the igovt brand early last year.
We have an economic recession and a new government which has insisted that projects be funded as far as possible from existing resources, he says, and there is now a different governance arrangement for all-of-government projects with the Government Technology Service under Internal Affairs set to take charge of the operational side of such initiatives.
This transition demands new governance arrangements as well as a re-examination of the financial aspects of the project, the terms of reference note.
With the internal government agency staff use of the authentication framework, the Government Logon Service, being taken up and a start made to the building of the public side, the Identity Verification Service, the project is “entering a new phase” says the document.
Most crucially, Cabinet has requested a report back from SSC and the Treasury in June 2009 on the proposed funding mix for the authentication programme for 2010/11 and subsequent years.
The SSC has therefore decided to build a new concise business case for the igovt project, consolidating the separate business cases drawn up in 2003, January 2004, October 2004, 2006, and 2007 into “one single, easily accessible document”.
This will “set out the business rationale behind the programme, and capture the benefits along with the underpinning economics,” say the terms of reference.
Benefits previously identified for the programme are dispersed through all the business case documents and it is hoped that a consolidated document will give a clearer picture of these benefits.
The programme needs to establish clear mechanisms and a preferred funding mix for 2010, 2011 and later years, the document says, “based on an up-to-date assessment of project costs.”
Project team for the review will consist of Stephen Crombie, general manager of GTS; Gavin Valentine, project manager; and Danny Mollan, Manager of technology strategy, standards and architecture.
A draft Cabinet paper on the future of the project will be presented by early June this year.
The review shortly follows the discontinuing of the Government Shared Network project and the canning, in 2003, of the GoProcure share procurement project.