Civil servants have signalled their intention to stop a government minister publishing Gateway reviews of work carried out so far on the ID cards project.
In the House of Commons last week Tony McNulty, the minister responsible for ID cards, gave an undertaking to Liberal Democrat MP Julia Goldsworthy to publish Gateway information on the ID cards project "to the extent that we are able".
But the next day, in a statement to Computer Weekly, the Home Office said Gateway reviews were confidential, in line with advice from the Office of Government Commerce.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said a confidential copy of the review would be issued by the OGC only to the senior responsible owner of the project at the Home Office.
After Computer Weekly asked whether officials or the minister had the final say over the publication of Gateway reviews, the spokeswoman issued a slightly revised statement. She said the Home Office would "consider what it can publish from the Gateway reviews on ID cards", but she declined to give an assurance that any results of the reviews would be published.
She also declined to say when a decision would be taken, if at all, to publish any information from the Gateway reviews.
Gateway reviews are independent assessments of high-risk projects by a team from the OGC. The reviews are in six stages during a project's lifecycle, from feasibility to an assessment of the benefits. Computer Weekly has campaigned for the publication of Gateway reviews as a means of ensuring transparency over the progress of high-risk government IT projects.
Goldsworthy, a member of the Public Administration Committee, had asked McNulty, "Will the minister publish the Gateway reviews that have been undertaken in respect of the IT procurement for this [ID cards] project?"
McNulty replied, "We shall provide that Gateway information, to the extent that we are ableÉ I gave the chair of the [Home Affairs] Select Committee that undertaking, and I give it again."
The Home Office has carried out three formal Gateway reviews on the ID cards project: two at level zero and a Gateway level-one in July, which looked at the justification for the project based on business needs and an assessment of its likely costs and potential for success.