The Home Office have started giving a few details of what they are planning to waste billions of pounds of taxpayers money on, through their Identity Card and National Identity Register scheme.
The Home Office Identity Cards website does not have a link from the front page to [correction - the link does appear on the left hand menu]
which links to:
- Procurement Strategy Market Sounding Presentation (.pdf)
- Procurement Strategy Market Sounding Questionnaire (.doc)
These are nowhere nearly detailed enough for a commercial company to try to quote on anything, but then this is, allegedly, not a procurement exercise.
The two documents do provide a glimpse of the bureaucratic 15 month Procurement plan, and at least name a lot of high level Contract Packages or sub-projects, with an indication of which ones they will keep in house and which bits will be outsourced.
Astonishingly, there are a couple of vague "Volumetrics" figures, without any background detail:
- 165 million ID Card verifications a year (more if the scheme is popular)
- 265 Government Departments
- 44,000 private sector organisations which need to be "accredited" to use the NIR
Verification Services: Enabling the verification of identity upon provision of (a)) a known fact or (b)biometric such that the NIR returns a "Yes" or "No" response to the verification request.
The figure for ID Card verifications is astonishing. After all the hype from the Government, is the ID Card only going to be used on average only 4 times a year by each of the 40 million or so people over the age of 16 living in the UK ?
Is this figure based solely on the use of the ID card as a Passport ?
Is each ID card verification going to cost, on average, £3.50 at time (based on the Government's alleged annual cost of the scheme, much, much more, if the London School of Economics estimates are accurate) ?
It is exactly this sort of fundamental assumption and any associated thinking about associated project risks, or the reasons for discounting such risks, that we have wanted to see published from the Office of Government Commerce Gateway Reviews of the Identity Cards
Programme. The knock on effects of getting such fundamental assumptions wrong, will be extremely expensive.
There is also another Biometric Technology trial in the offing, but using even fewer people than the notorious UK Passport Service one.
- Only 2100 "representatives" of the UK popuilation
- Only 300 people , presumably with disabilities, for whom one or more Biometrics won't work for.
- Some dubious fingerprint database testing, using "1 to 2 million" fingerprints.
Have a million people given their informed consent for their fingerprints to be used for this purpose, or are they simply going to nick the Criminal Records fingerprint database (about 2 million entries) ?
It appears to be mostly another "synthetic" fingerprint database trial, where permutations and combinatations of a few hundred or a couple of thousand fingerprint images are copied and mixed to provide a million synthetic sets of 10 fingerprints.
This alleged "technology trial" will only take 3 months.
How this chimes with the review of the suitability of Biometric Technology by the Government's Chief Scientific Advisor
Sir Alan Sir David King, is a mystery.
The Questionnaire reveals the assumption that the National Identity Register databases will be housed at two centralised data centre sites.
These "Market Sounding Documents" still do not constitute a high level design comparable to the London School of Economics' alternative ID Scheme proposal.
The Home Office wants these "Market Soundings" by the 9th of November 2005 and Procurement per se, will start after Royal Assent, assumed to be by January 2006.