Quarkside

14/06/2012

IER (aka IVR): data matching shambles

Filed under: Electoral,Governance,Local Government,Politics — lenand @ 1:45 pm
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Individual Electoral Registration (IER, and also previously known as IVR, or Individual Voter Registration) is the subject of many Cabinet Office papers. Over 400 Councils, their Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) and their ICT departments are faced with one almighty problem to get it operating smoothly in time for the 2015 general election.

The lack of preparation was apparent by November 2011. The Cabinet Office have developed a framework and run a number of data matching pilots with LAs.  The results are no surprise.

“Of the data sets tested in the pilot the DWP data set had the highest match rate (the proportion of the electoral register that could be successfully matched within the national data). On average, two- thirds of the electoral register (66 per cent) could be matched within this data set.”

This is typical for the quality of data matching between local and central government data bases. The experience with the Child Index (aka ContactPoint) and the Data Connects work contains innumerable lessons that have not been learnt. More effort should have been placed on developing an implementation framework that assumes that data quality will be poor.   We all know that 90% of data cleansing effort goes into error handling and the Cabinet Office should not assume that data matching will be good enough.

The fact is that quality isn’t good enough is reinforced by the March Electoral Commission report. To quote:

“The pilots did not follow processes, in terms of the IT systems and matching arrangements, which would be used for nationwide data matching. The evaluation cannot therefore draw conclusions about how the costs of these pilots would translate to a national roll-out.”

In effect we have lost at least two years in the programme. It will be no surprise if this is proclaimed as Yet Another Government IT Failure (YAGIF). It will not be a failure of ICT, but a failure of mandarins to understand how LAs operate.

A Cabinet Office key finding is:

 “Generally, the level of public interest or concern regarding the pilots was reported to be low”

A cynic might think IVR can fail without embarrassment – Electoral Reform is in the portfolio of the Deputy Prime Minister.

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Cabinet Office eID follows Quarkside?

Filed under: Governance,Politics,Risk — lenand @ 12:40 pm
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At the end of May, the Cabinet Office reported that Identity Assurance goes to Washington.  They seem to have taken heed of January’s Quarkside support of the OIX standard for eIDs.  This is the Open Identity Trust Framework (OITF) Model that does not require a central hub.  Perhaps the headline claim is a little strong, since there is no evidence that anybody there has read the blog!  Nevertheless, given that a central eID scheme has been ruled out by Government policy, it is a small step in the right direction.  Although a central scheme would be the most efficient to operate and implement, federation of eIDs is technically feasible.

Now for the next set of issues:

  • Can the Government use a current implementation of OIX that prevents identity fraud, such as duplicate identities or impersonation?
  • Will private sector identity providers, such as Google, provide eIDs at a price that makes commercial sense to themselves or citizens?
  • Will the scheme be ready in time for Universal Credit with sufficient trust in electronic credentials?

With a risk manager’s hat on the answers to all of these is probably “No“, ie greater than 50% chance of missing targets.  Failure of Quality, failure of Cost and failure of Time; the fundamental triumvirate of project management.  Will this be another ill-fated YAGIF (Yet Another Government IT Failure) – which is actually a Governance failure, not ICT?

The OIX framework does not obviously include the high levels of trust that public sector agencies will need to dispense £billions with on-line transactions.  Something akin to an Identity Trust Matrix may be necessary, tailored to the specific needs of service providers such as schools and the NHS.

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