Leaked emails predict ID card failure

Leaked emails predict ID card failure

Summary: Senior civil servants have serious doubts about the viability of the Government's ID card project, leaked emails have revealed

TOPICS: Tech Industry

Leaked emails from senior civil servants have revealed their fears that the ID cards project is heading for disaster.

In the emails David Foord, mission critical director of identity and defence at the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) criticised the high costs of the project, the "very serious shortage" of qualified staff and the lack of clear benefits on which to demonstrate a return on investment.

According to the emails, published in The Sunday Times, Foord also raised concerns about the National Identity Register (NIR).

One email reportedly said: "Even if everything went perfectly (which it will not) it is very debatable (given performance of government ICT projects) whether... [the NIR] can be procured, delivered, tested and rolled out in just over two years."

And he added: "I conclude that we are setting ourselves up to fail."

The NIR is the heart of the ID cards project. This database will hold personal identity information and biometric data for everyone who has enrolled in the scheme. But concerns have already been raised about the security and viability of such a massive system.

Foord also warned that plans for the introduction of a watered down ID card if botched "could put back the introduction of ID cards for a generation".

Critics of the project were quick to seize on the comments. Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of anti-ID cards group No2ID, called for a permanent halt to the project, saying it is "too dangerous" to continue with.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg MP waded in claiming the project is an "uncosted and untested experiment".

But the Home Office insisted the project is still viable. A spokeswoman said: "Any suggestion that we have abandoned the introduction of ID cards is wrong. We have always made it clear that the introduction would be in stages and that remains the plan. We are still committed to the introduction of the national identity scheme."

At the time of writing the OGC had not returned calls requesting comment.

Topic: Tech Industry

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • My perspectiff from across the bog: Britain is a police state: Orwell's big bother with his snoop cameras is everywhere. But crime's not diminished by that, nor will it be by carte d'identite' or whatever. Because Britain is living with the consequences of the lack-of-sense-of-community-values of Thatcher, and a thatcherite 'labor' party. What a mess! Who would choose between Tush and Blair and AU's Howard? - Woe to the English-speaking world.
  • Whatever form the ID cards take - if they ever do appear nationally - there is nothing more certain than the fact they will be counterfeited, cloned, copied and so forth, as well as lost and stolen.
    It is therefore a forgone conclusion by virtually everyone except the government staff involved, who have a very vested interest in keeping their jobs, that the whole thing as envisaged is a complete waste of taxpayers hard earned monies.
    The result would see us as a nation carrying pointless ID Cards, of no more value than carrying a passport.
    Perhaps it would be more sense to personailse and use the National Insurance database. With suitable control and clampdown on issue of NI numbers to entitled British citizens only, I am sure a viable ID system could be introduced. Remember that NI numbers are already linked to the Revenue and Customs. This would not only allow control of benefit welfare payments, but allow such as hospitals to access sufficient to establish entitlement to "free" treatment.