Government conceals ID cards reviews

The government this week strengthened its opposition to disclosing the Gateway reviews of the ID cards programme, arguing that publishing any information about the reviews could undermine their usefulness.

The government this week strengthened its opposition to disclosing the Gateway reviews of the ID cards programme, arguing that publishing any information about the reviews could undermine their usefulness.

The government rejected calls from MPs on the cross-party Science and Technology Committee to publish an "overall indication" of the outcomes, without going into detail, to raise public confidence in the scheme.

In a response to a report from the MPs, the Home Office said that it followed guidelines from the Office of Government Commerce, which precluded the reports being made public.

“To make any part of it public would set a precedent and undermine the usefulness of the OGC Gateway report as a candid and unbiased report,” said the Home Office.

Last week, Computer Weekly disclosed that the Home Office is spending tax-payers’ money to fight an order from the information commissioner, Richard Thomas to publish the reports.

The Home Office revealed it would not be able to trail the whole ID card system before rolling it out. Instead, it plans to test the system as it is gradually deployed.

“Trialling the end-to-end solution before going live would imply trialling a large number of low-risk technologies, for example e-mail. That would not be cost effective and may needlessly delay launch,” it said.

The Identity and Passport Service had carried out testing combined with a gradual roll out, in the past on other projects, such as the e-passport, with successful results, the Home Office said.

The response said that the government was sympathetic to recommendations by the Committee to establish an ICT Assurance committee of academics and industry experts to review the programme.

Officials from the Identity and Passport Service have begun setting out options for the creation of a group to provide assurance on IT. The Government CIO and the Home Office CIO would be at the group’s core.

“The prices nature of this is yet to be decided but advice on, and a review of, the policy and practice of ICT testing is likely to be in its remit,” it said.

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