The government's ID cards plan and cost estimates remain "worryingly vague", according to academics at the London School of Economics (LSE).
The LSE response follows the Home Office's first "section 37" report, which will be given to parliament every six months, on the latest cost estimates for the UK's national ID cards scheme.
The first report earlier this month said the ID cards scheme will cost £5.4bn to set up and run over the next 10 years, with 15 percent — £810m — relating to investment in the technology.
Dr Edgar A Whitley, from the LSE's Department of Management, said the report is "worryingly vague" about the timeline for implementation and does little to increase public confidence in the scheme.
He said in a statement: "We remain concerned about the government's ability to start issuing the first biometric identity cards to UK citizens by 2009, given the ongoing uncertainties about the testing and procurement of biometric and secure database technologies."
The LSE said future Home Office reports should provide annual cost estimates — not just the 10-year totals currently used — as well as details of any independent scrutiny of those assessments. The academics also want a new round of reviews by the Office of Government Commerce because of the changes that have been made to the ID cards scheme since the legislation was approved by parliament.
Just this week the Home Office also admitted the ID cards project will go live without all the technology being tested first.