ID cards ‘as risky as NHS IT project’

Bill Goodwin writes in Computer Weekly:

The government’s proposed ID card scheme is likely to be as risky as the NHS National Programme for IT, and could cost twice the estimated £5.4bn price tag, an independent review has concluded.

The review, the first to analyse the project based on the expected demand for ID card services, concludes that it is at “significant risk” of performance failure, which could delay the project and push up costs.

If ID cards are to deliver all the benefits claimed by the government, the infrastructure will need to process 3.4 million transactions a day, putting it on a par with the NHS IT programme for complexity, the report concludes.

The report was written by Capacitas – their press release is here.

No more secrets

Steve Boggan writes in The Guardian:

Earlier this year, Tony Blair announced plans to allow government departments to share more information about us, while rubbishing the suggestion that this would lead to the creation of a “Big Brother” super-database. At the moment, he said, over-zealous rules on data-sharing leave government departments hamstrung. Each one stores information on us, and much of it is out of date. Ministers even cited the disturbing case of one man who had had to contact 44 branches of government to sort out affairs when a family member died. How much simpler it would be, then, to have all our identity information in one place where it could be easily updated with one phone call or letter.

To most people, unfamiliar with the myriad government proposals and strategy documents on “e-government” and data sharing, it might have sounded like a good idea – even “perfectly sensible”, as Blair put it. Besides, what was wrong with government departments actually talking to each other? Isn’t that what we want – joined-up government? At the time, the prime minister and John Hutton, secretary of state at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which is spearheading plans for data sharing, said it would not be necessary to set up a new super-database for all this information. That is true. What some people may not have understood, however, is that a database that will make all this possible – the national identity register – is already under construction. Or that civil servants are expecting up to 265 government departments and 44,000 accredited “private sector organisations” to use it to verify your identity.

Phil Booth, national coordinator of the No2ID campaign (, spends all his time pulling together pieces of fresh information on where the ID cards scheme might be going. “My main concern is the audit trail that will be built up on you in the national identity register,” he says.

“Each time anyone checks on your ID, it will be recorded. That means that over time the authorities could build up a very accurate picture of everything you do. That audit trail then becomes the key to the data that is stored on all other databases no matter where they are kept. It is not necessary to have a giant database because your ID number and the audit trail provide the key to the information on all the other databases.”