Government signals end to Public Services Network
The Public Services Network adds unnecessary complications to providing digital services and will be abandoned, according to the Government Digital Service.
PSN "can cause confusion and adds complexity for public sector organisations" - Photo credit: Fotalia
GDS director of technical architecture & head of technology James Stewart indicated in a blog post that technology leaders from government departments agree that, as more systems move to the cloud, using the internet is adequate for most services.
He said that the public sector is now on a ‘journey away from PSN’.
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The blog post said: “At a recent meeting of the Technology Leaders Network, we reviewed our position and it was clear that everyone agreed we could just use the internet.
“For the vast majority of the work that the public sector does, the internet is ok.”
Stewart emphasised the importance of ensuring the basic security of technology used by suppliers and government.
But he said that PSN no longer provided the best option for ensuring trust in data systems.
He said: “As we move more and more of our systems to public cloud services the expectation that we’ll communicate over the PSN can cause confusion and adds complexity for public sector organisations and our suppliers.”
In future, government will need to apply basic application-level security whether or not services are on the PSN.
“This then opens up the question of whether the extra layer of complexity is really helpful,” Stewart said.
However, he warned that the change will not happen immediately and organisations will need to connect to PSN for some time.
“But from today,” he said, “new services should be made available on the internet and secured appropriately using the best available standards-based approaches. When we’re updating or changing services, we should take the opportunity to move them to the internet.”
Mark Smith, head of PSN, has been working with data scientists in GDS and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to prototype other ways of providing assurance data, Stewart said, with more details to be revealed in a future blog post.
The Scottish government will implement a “tough” assurance process for digital projects, mandate the use of common technologies and offer training to make sure civil servants “get digital”.
Councils should be in the “driving seat” of technological change, but need to rethink the role they play in their locality and invest in long-term planning, a report has said.
Public sector organisations have been told they still have to meet the common Public Sector Network assurance standards while work is carried out to move away from the network.
The government has published its long-awaited Digital Strategy, which sets out plans to increase digital inclusion, data skills and industry links.