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Design work for online authentication to start

1 July 2003 Media Statement

Design work for online authentication to start

The Government is to proceed with the development of a centralised and secure system of identity confirmation for people wanting to use government services online, State Services Minister Trevor Mallard announced today.

“The system is known as online authentication and is the key to delivering more sophisticated government services securely over the internet,” Trevor Mallard said.

“A consultation process on online authentication options was recently held, with feedback from community, voluntary and business groups, central and local government agencies and members of the public.

“It was very clear that the preferred option is a straightforward central solution with limited information exchange, putting security and privacy uppermost. The Government has accepted this approach.

“By developing a robust solution across government agencies, people can have confidence accessing government services online no matter which agency they are dealing with.

“This common approach will become increasingly important as agencies work more closely together to develop online services that meet people’s needs.

“We also got a strong message from the consultation that people want the authentication process handled by an appropriate government agency, rather than a private sector organisation.

“People have taken to internet banking, and tell us they want the same kind of convenience and security for the increasing range of government services that are available online,” Trevor Mallard said.

Today’s decision means design work will start on the system, based on the key features of the preferred model.

“This will provide the level of detail we need to put this kind of system in place so we can make a well-informed decision about how to proceed.

“The State Services Commission will report back to Cabinet in early 2004, when a decision will be made on whether to proceed to the next phase,” Trevor Mallard said.


Questions and answers

What does the next phase involve?
The E-government Unit of the State Services Commission will be working closely with government agencies to ensure they can implement online authentication in a way that meets the requirements Government has set to protect people’s privacy and provide security.

This phase of development will build on the work already done by the E-government Unit and a number of other government agencies.

A set of base standards for existing online authentication solutions will be established. A detailed design and cost/benefit analysis will be undertaken and the privacy implications and legislative requirements will be worked through.

How much will it cost?
Up to $2.3 million has been budgeted for the first phase.

How many people access government services online?
A recent survey found that 71 per cent of those surveyed had used the internet in the last month. This was the highest percentage of internet use amongst the 31 countries surveyed. In the same survey, 40 per cent said they had accessed government services online in the previous year, compared with a global average of 30 per cent.

How many services currently require online authentication?
More and more government services are being brought online all the time. Over a third of all government services require authentication and online authentication will be needed for those services to be delivered via the internet. This figure is likely to rise as agencies meet increasing demand for more sophisticated delivery of online services.

What happens if I choose not to use online authentication?
There are a number of ways to receive government services, including via the internet. However, if you want to access certain government services online, you will have to use the proposed online authentication system. Registering for online authentication means you’ll have an additional, more convenient way to contact government departments when you need to.

How was the public consultation conducted?
A paper setting out the options and seeking feedback was available on the e-government website and via an 0800 phone number. The consultation was advertised in the major metropolitan and provincial newspapers. At the same time over 30 sessions were held with community, voluntary and business groups across the country.

The consultation paper is available from:

Will the State Services Commission continue to consult with interested groups during the detailed design phase?
Yes. The E-government Unit of the State Services Commission has had valuable input from a variety of community, voluntary and business groups throughout the project.

Further input from groups, particularly those that have expressed a particular interest, will be sought to ensure the solution takes account of the views of the people who will eventually use the system.

Have other countries used the adopted approach?
The E-government Unit conducted research into the solutions planned or adopted by other countries, including visits to Australia, Canada, Ireland, Singapore and the UK. The proposed solution has aspects of a number of these authentication models.

When is the proposed authentication system going to be delivered?
The E-government Unit will report back to Cabinet in early 2004 with their findings. Cabinet will then decide the next step for the online authentication of government services.

What safeguards are there to ensure the project will stay on track?
The Online Authentication project affects all central government agencies. As such it meets the Government’s criteria for a major IT project. All major IT projects in the public sector are monitored and have safeguards in place to avoid escalating costs and timelines. This project will meet the monitoring requirements.

Will the proposed system mean members of the public must have an id card or a digital certificate?
The authentication system can be implemented without the need for an id card or a digital certificate. A range of technical options will be assessed during the next phase for reporting to Cabinet in early 2004.

Will the proposed system do away with established customer numbers like those used by Inland Revenue and in the health service?
No. The proposed system allows people to apply for a credential to use online. The credential simply identifies them uniquely to any government agency. The agency uses the credential to find customer records, which usually involve an agency’s customer number.

Does having a credential entitle you to receive a service?
No. The purpose of the credential is to identify you when you wish use a government service online. It is up to each agency to determine whether you are entitled to the service. For some services you may have to go to an office at some stage to receive the service.

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