MPs Question Worth Of Digital By Default Strategy

There is little evidence the government is adequately measuring the success of its “Digital by Default” strategy, MPs have complained.

The Science and Technology Committee wrote to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, raising questions about the promised savings of the strategy, which will see all public services moved online where possible. GOV.UK is at the centre of the government’s plans, as the central portal for many departments.

Security of Digital by Default

The committee also has concerns around security, pointing to accusations, made during scrutiny of the plans, that the government often uses unpatched software.

The committee fretted that additional vulnerabilities could be introduced where third parties are involved, as with the identity assurance programme, which includes suppliers such as PayPal.

“A key justification of the Digital by Default strategy is savings to the taxpayer. Yet it is not evident that the Government is even able to measure these savings,” said Andrew Miller MP, chair of the Select Committee.

“Public trust is absolutely essential. The government must ensure the integrity and security of data and give people sufficient control over their stored personal information otherwise, the Digital by Default strategy will not succeed.”

Maude has been asked to respond to the committee’s concerns by October.

The National Audit Office (NAO) raised its own issues with Digital by Default in March this year. It was worried about the 17 percent of the British population who are not online. The body had particular concerns about over-65s getting left behind as the government rushes to get all of its services on the Internet.

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Thomas Brewster

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

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