Government launches new Public Services Network compliance process

The government has promised the new compliance process for the Public Services Network will be "simpler, clearer and faster".

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The government has launched a new compliance process for the Public Services Network which it promises will be “simpler, clearer and faster” than its replacement.

PSN aims to create a single ICT network for all UK public sector organisations, helping public sector bodies to work together more effectively and save money.

Changes include simplifying the Code of Connection (a set of requirements that must be met for authorities to join the network) and removing needless complexity from the ‘Code Template’.

All organisations needing to renew or apply for a PSN compliance certificate must use the new process. Those currently partway through their submissions using the previous process have a deadline of 30 June 2015 to complete them.

The security process, which decides which organisations can and can’t access the network, was a major bugbear of IT teams in local government last year.

Many councils were initially refused to connection to PSN, with some failing to make the compliance deadline in March 2014, after the scope of the audit was increased.

The Government Digital Service took charge of the PSN programme a month later. It conceded the security process was “far too complicated” and promised to simplify it.

This week the GDS said it had made “great progress” with the public beta of the new compliance rules, which launched in March, and thanked “the PSN community” for its “cooperation, support and feedback”.

However it said the launch was not the end and promised to “continue to look at the process as technology and the requirements of our users evolve”.

Innopsis, which represents suppliers to the network, welcomed the fact GDS had moved away from some of the expensive, unnecessary elements of the former compliance regime.

However information governance director Des Ward warned “there is still a way to go to remove the barriers to effective inter-agency information sharing”.

Earlier this month Innopsis suggested one of the new Cabinet Office’s minister’s priorities should be to set up a common information governance policy for the entire public sector. In the meantime Ward suggested the public sector use existing governance frameworks such as the HMT Orange book, ISO 27001 and information governance legislation to encourage collaboration.

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