The project to get all States services online has cost just under £10 million so far, but that doesn't include a critical part, which is giving all islanders a secure 'digital ID' to access the system - that's going to cost extra.
From filling out tax forms to reporting anti-social behaviour – all these services will be available at the click of a button on one website in future.
The first phase of the eGov project, which brings States of Jersey and parish services together, was officially launched yesterday under a working title of ‘one.gov.je.'
But so far, not everyone can access it, as it’s currently going through a trial period where users are on invitation only. About 60 to 70 people – mainly made up of staff and people linked to them – are testing the system to find flaws.
Pictured: First phase of 'one.gov.je' was launched to public today.
The Business Change Director for the States of Jersey, Jonathan Williams explains it’s to, “...get feedback early on and then make sure you can respond to that feedback to develop whatever is necessary to correct or improve the service. (…) you have to choose the right size group to get the best feedback, but not get so many more people using it who would get frustrated with the same old niggles.
“So many things have been done out of sight, I completely understand why there was nervousness and worry about money being spent and nothing to see for it. The idea of today was being able to actually show the real thing so this isn’t now about talking about a concept or a prototype or idea, what you see in preview is the real thing. It is a fully functional, operating website with services (..) that we will build on at speed once we put a ID in front of it sometime next year.”
Pictured: ID provider to enable user profile for eGov website has not been appointed yet.
The identification service will enable each islander to load all their details once. Those details will then be applied to every application and payment you need to do online, to save you having to contact each individual department. It will also link the correct parish news and information to your address.
But this main feature isn’t up and running yet, and is going to cost much more than the agreed £9.9million budget for the project.
Mr Williams says, “…digital ID was always one which we carved out as requiring extra funding. So when we went to PAC some months ago we confirmed we would be running within budget – in fact I can say we will finish 2017 in budget and our forecast for 2018 remains in budget – but we will be looking to spend incremental to our existing budget for the digital ID service. When we talk about what that service is, we will also talk about the level of funding because there will be huge amounts of interest in how much more we look to commit to this, so once we made our selection we will also be transparent, wherever commercially possible, about the level of funding we’ve had to secure for this.”
At yesterday’s launch the Minister in charge of eGov, Deputy Scott Wickenden, said they haven’t appointed an ID provider by now because “...it’s a very immature market (the digital ID) so we’ve had to be very careful about what we’re doing. There’s a lot of different countries that have done it wrong, and they’ve done it very expensively which is something that we couldn’t afford to do in Jersey. So we have pushed back the agenda for the digital ID to make sure we are doing absolutely the right thing, but it will be early next year which I’ve confidence that it will be delivered.”
Pictured: New government website will bring all States of Jersey and Parish services together, including links to apps.
The ‘one.gov.je’ website will enable people to track their applications and enquiries, as well as locate bus stops and recycling centres closest to them via an interactive map.
The project development team say they’ve researched similar systems used by over 150 local councils in the UK and national departments. They’ve joined user forums to see what has and hasn’t worked on these sites and had to implement highest level of verification requirements, to keep personal data secure and comply with the new data protection law coming into force in January.
Mr Williams and Deputy Wickenden hope to launch the website to the public during the first quarter of 2018, but couldn’t pinpoint exactly when.
When it is available, they said they will not be making it compulsory, Islanders will still be able to access Government services via telephone or face-to-face; but there will be kiosk computers at parish halls, the library and the Social Security department for those needing support to go online.
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