The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

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Resource material › Identity Verification Service › igovt Public Consultation Report - Summary

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and State Services Commission (SSC) are pleased to report on the results of the public consultation held in late 2007 on the proposed igovt service.

The Internet is becoming a mainstream 'channel' for people and organisations to interact, transact, and participate with government. However, the convenience offered by the online channel and utilising it as a key enabler to transform government’s service delivery requires economical and effective ways to have confidence in the identity of the person online.

Work encompassing policies, standards, and all-of-government shared services to address these issues and realise the benefits is being undertaken by the All-of-government Authentication Programme, led by SSC. Multiple all-of-government shared services, each developed by the most appropriate government agency, will be provided to people and organisations as a single, integrated online service under the “igovt” umbrella.

One of the igovt services planned will provide people with the ability to choose to use the Internet to verify their identity to government agencies easily and securely. This will save the cost and inconvenience of presenting multiple identification documents to each government agency each time people need to prove that they are who they say they are. This igovt service, providing identity verification to a high level of confidence, is being developed and will be operated by DIA.

Like other igovt services, this service has been designed on the basis of Policy Principles and Implementation Principles approved by Cabinet in 2002 as well as public consultation on the draft conceptual models and business processes in 2003. A Privacy Impact Assessment of the high-level design of this service was conducted by an independent assessor in 2005.

The details and context for the service have evolved since the previous public consultation in 2003. It was therefore considered important to seek the views of the public about key aspects of the proposed service before the service design was finalised. Public consultation was also considered essential for continuing the transparency that has been a hallmark of developing igovt services.

DIA, with the support of SSC, used the services of Gatt Consulting Ltd to independently conduct the public consultation late last year (2007). The report, What People Said, has now been received and is being published.

DIA and SSC wish to thank the many, many people who contributed their valuable time and made the effort to submit their views or participate in workshops across the country. These views, and the views of the community groups that they represent, play a vital role in ensuring that the result is a service that people find valuable and will choose to use.

Overall, there was significant support for the service. A common refrain from workshop participants and in submissions was the convenience that the service is expected to provide and the resulting time and cost savings in dealing with government. A wide variety of applications for the service were noted.

One of the overall messages was that the service should go ahead as quickly as possible and be made available as widely as possible. Key messages included the need for a simple, user-friendly, accessible, free, and safe service where privacy is protected.

The service was particularly attractive to users with disabilities because of the convenience of the online channel and with students who are heavy users of online services.
At the same time, a number of valuable issues and suggestions were raised in workshops and submissions. They are detailed in the report and are being considered. Some of the important ones are listed below.

    Security and protection of privacy are important
    While favourable views were expressed, security and protection of privacy were considered to be very important. The opt-in nature of the service and continued availability of current channels were also considered to be of particular importance.

    All of these factors have been of critical importance in designing the service. DIA will ensure that this continues. In addition, DIA will ensure that both the security of the service as well as protection of privacy is validated by independent experts periodically.
      Free or low cost service
      Many have suggested that cost may be a barrier to uptake and that the service should be free or very low cost.

      A final decision on service costs have not yet been made but these views will be taken into account in making the decision.
        Breadth of agencies where the service could be used
        In various ways, people have commented on usefulness of the service being linked with the number of agencies and services where they could use the service to verify their identity.

        The Government is committed to meeting this objective and has directed departments not to make an investment in their own identity verification capability without due consideration of this service.
          Introducing the service in phases
          The mixed views expressed have been noted. While there was some support for the proposed rollout of the service in phases, others voiced concern about the delayed availability to people who wanted to join this service but would be unable to do so.

          Proceeding with a limited service while simultaneously working on the supporting legislation allows for early availability of the service to those people who can join before supporting legislation is passed (namely, people who in the previous five years have got a New Zealand passport, been granted New Zealand citizenship or been registered as a New Zealand citizen by descent). The alternative is that the service is launched only after supporting legislation is passed, which could take several years, which means that no one is able to join and use the service before then. DIA and SSC prefer the former option so that the service is available to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

          Those who are unable to join in the limited service phase will still be able to transact securely with government agencies online in the meantime. They would need to continue to use the existing ways of proving their identity to the government agency. However, they could still benefit from being able to use a single logon, such as a username and password, from the Government Logon Service (which will be branded an igovt service later in 2008).

          These points were not clearly communicated in the public consultation and will be addressed by DIA and SSC. It is believed that better communication will remove some of the misgivings that people have expressed.
            Extending the service to verify identity with businesses
            People have expressed strong support for this, while at the same time calling for protection of the key parameters of the service such as maintaining alternative channels.

            DIA and SSC are supportive of this and are currently examining the issues that may need to be addressed before recommending such a move to Government.

            You can link here to a PDF version of the full report:
            • Full igovt Public Consultation Report (.pdf) 570k
              Public consultation about the igovt service - 'What People Said'
              (Prepared for the Department of Internal Affairs by Gatt Consulting Ltd, March 2008)