Governments urged to recognise universal right to proof of ID; UK civil servants praised for work arranging Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral: policy & delivery news in brief

By on 15/09/2022 | Updated on 15/09/2022
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Global Government Forum’s weekly digest of the news you need to know but might have missed.

Campaign urges governments to recognise universal right to proof of ID

The Identity Day Campaign has today urged governments around the world to recognise International Identity Day, which marks the fundamental right of citizens to possession of proof of ID.

The organisation has said that in addition to being a basic right, proof of one’s identity is a “practical necessity for the human experience, especially in the context of digital transformation of society”, and said governments should all officially recognize 16 September as Identity Day to help promote awareness of the need for ID.

“Very few social constructs play as foundational a role in our lives as personal identity, yet the world does not commemorate it.”

Around one billion people, about half of which live in Africa, lack proof of identity. Those who do possess proof can be vulnerable to theft, fraud and violation of privacy.

Through International Identity Day, the campaign said it hoped to commemorate and promote “a responsible narrative” around personal identity, which it termed “the most important human asset”.

The UN added that the choice of date for the occasion – 16 September – is “highly symbolic”, owing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal number ‘16.9’, which “calls for the provision of legal identity for all by 2030, including birth registration”.

The three fundamentals of identity outlined by the campaign are “Inclusion”, “Protection” and “Empowerment”. The first concerns people who have been left behind as the world moves closer to full digital transformation. The second and third are about securing and maximising the benefits of identity proof for those who already possess proof of ID.

Read more: Digital ID – what is it, why is it needed, and how are governments developing it

‘Thank you civil servants’: officials praised for work arranging Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral

UK civil servants have been praised for their work in preparing for the Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, which will be one of the biggest state events in living memory.

Many officials have been working on putting in place the plans for the funeral since the death of the UK’s longest-reigning monarch was announced last week. Former cabinet secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell told Global Government Forum that for many officials, this would be an incredibly busy period as the funeral is “a massive event”.

“We will have heads of state and government coming from all around the world, so there are a lot of civil servants who will be working incredibly hard,” he told Global government Forum last week.

O’Donnell’s comments were echoed by former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, whose old department – the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – has been heavily involved in the development of the plans for the funeral, and other memorial events including the Queen’s lying in state in Westminster Hall.

“Civil servants have been working around the clock, some only snatching a few hours sleep over the weekend to ensure everything goes to plan and on time,” she tweeted on Tuesday. “The task is enormous and they do this work, behind the scenes, unrecognised and mostly unacknowledged. Thank you CSs [civil servants].”

Read more: ‘The ultimate public servant’: Lord Gus O’Donnell’s memories of Queen Elizabeth II from his time at the heart of government

Australia’s agricultural agency calls for stronger biosecurity measures

Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) has said the country’s biosecurity system will have to be developed in order to meet its present and future needs.

The department recently wrote to a senate enquiry on the preparedness of the country’s biosecurity system, saying that although Australia had strong measures already in place, conditions for future readiness were undermined by issues such as climate change and resulting global migration.

“It is a system that is constantly evolving and adapting to changing risks that threaten our AUS$83.1bn (US$56bn) in annual agricultural production (2021-22) and AUS$65.9bn (US$44.4bn) in agricultural exports (2022-23 forecast),” DAFF said, adding:

“The recent measures introduced by the government in response to the increased risk of foot and mouth disease (FMD) and lumpy skin disease (LSD) are a demonstration of the agility and responsiveness of the system we have in place.”

The existing system has been set up to follow guidelines drawn up by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which seek a balance between the rules and necessary requirements of global trade and hygiene.

Australia’s methods for maintaining best practice include the use of lockdowns, masks, vaccines, antivirals, and isolation orders, sometimes referred to as the ‘Swiss cheese models’ due to its many routes to protection.

The Biosecurity Act passed in 2015 outlines the responsibilities of state and federal stakeholders, including agencies, as well as the powers held by the governor-general and agriculture and health ministers in the event of a public health emergency.

Read more: ‘Urgent’ need to streamline Australian Public Service, review finds

Teleworking: US government agency urged to share insights into the future of federal offices

The US General Services Administration (GSA) has been urged to do more to help agencies of the federal government prepare for post-COVID changes to the federal official estate.

According to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), 19 of 24 agencies surveyed said plan to reduce square footage in their real estate portfolio due to the rise in telework during the pandemic.

However, the GAO found that the GSA, the organisation in charge of federal leases and owned federal spaces with responsibility for 1,500 of the more than 19,500 buildings owned by the US federal government, was not sharing data collected in pilot schemes to assess office space utilisation data it had collected. It was also not sharing information on the costs of collection that could help federal agencies decide on whether they should undertake their own space utilisation exercises.

This is despite the GAO report stating that the GSA was “accustomed to sharing information on real property planning with federal agencies through reports, webinars and its agency website”.  Some 13 of the 24 agencies GAO surveyed said such data could be helpful in their planning, though all expressed concerns about the costs of data collection. Consequently, most of the vast majority of them (20 of the 24) said they had collected “limited or no space utilisation data”.

The GAO concluded: “By not planning to more broadly share this information, GSA is missing an opportunity to provide a clear understanding of how the potential costs of collecting such data could be outweighed by the long-term benefits, including potential cost savings from reductions in future annual rent, maintenance, and other operational costs.”

Read more: Teleworking: US government agency urged to share insights into the future of federal offices

About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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