Government agencies got the green light for numerous IT projects in the 2007 budget, including some at the core of the State Services Commission’s e-government initiative.
The SSC has received a $9 million vote over two years to develop its Identity Verification Service (IVS), with $5 million budgeted for the 2008 financial year backed by a further $4 million in 2009.
Laurence Millar, director of the SSC’s e-government programme, says such decision-points do cause nervousness, but the Commission had made a business case and was hopeful the project would be approved.
Millar says the IVS will allow people to verify their identity to agencies online in real time.
“In several terms it’s like presenting your passport online,” he says. “People can now go along and access and service and say ‘I am who I say I am,’ ” he says.
Millar says to do that, it’s necessary to have the appropriate level of robustness in the authentication system. For now, that means two-factor authentication, where a user name and password is augmented with a further identity mechanism, such as the RSA tags being used in the Government Log-on Service.
However, Millar says the development of the IVS is incremental and it is being built to accommodate whatever second factor identification system finds market acceptance.
“It depends on citizen uptake,” he says. “The advantage of doing this across the whole of government is that as the uptake of second factor authentication occurs we are able to shift strategy.”
Millar says what is not yet known yet is how second factor authentication will evolve in society and that is not a pure government issue. Banks and other institutions are also rolling out two-factor authentication systems, he says.
Millar says concerns about security and privacy are being met with an open consultation process.
“The architecture has had a favourable privacy impact assessment,” he says, adding it complies with best practices.
“It’s secure, it’s private and it’s allowing government to improve the way it deliver service to meet an increasing expectation of online delivery,” he says.
Also in the SSC’s vote is a slight increase in funding for the Government Shared Network for the 2008 year. Spending on the dedicated network for state sector agencies is expected to increase from $10 million in the 2008 financial year to $14.8 million in 2009 and $18.2 million in 2010 and 2011.
Among other agency appropriations, ACC has been voted $5 million for ICT infrastructure investment, rising to $25 million in 2011. The Communications vote contains spending of $4.7 million for each of the next two years to implement the government’s telecommunications framework.