Why does government hatch so many bad tech ideas?

Maybe it's because the politically appointed top officials are stone clueless about technology. And the CIOs who do understand are powerless.

BBC Click reporter Chris Long offers a rant about government-initiated projects that DOA (dumb on arrival). He offers a few examples from the UK, many of which have parallels in America.

  • A national health database took too long to load, so now one shift leader logs on from one computer, which all staff use to access the database.
  • The RFID chip implanted in new e-passports is guaranteed to work for only two years, although the life of the passport in 10 years.
  • The biometrics on proposed identity cards are neither accurate nor efficient.
  • The UK government is proposing to merge three huge databases of sensitive personal information - Department of Work and Pensions, the Identity and Passport Service and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate - into one mega-base, with no assurances that the current data is correct and non-fraudulent.

So what's up with so many bad government IT ideas?

my concern about all this is the ignorance of the technical thinking behind these ideas; ideas that have apparently been formulated by people who've learnt their technology from watching, James Bond, Star Trek, Dr Who and Blakes 7.

I can just imagine the conversation: "Q says we have to connect the Tardis engine to some dilthium crystals and throw some tachyon particles at it... What do you think Orac?"

Home Secretary John Reid's sign-on to the movement to force sexual predators to register their email addresses hits Long's nail on the head.

The reality is that it is so easy to create an online identity - there are no checks at all when you create a webmail account, for example.

But Mr Reid wasn't talking to me, he was talking to people that will nod sagely and say "bloody good idea", because these people also don't have a clue about getting online identities.

But surely the technology ideas we get thrown at us have to mean something? They have to be viable.

And if they aren't viable, who is judging the effect of this steady drip, drip of technological ignorance on our perception of technology?