A working group has raised concerns about the multiple objectives of the project, which will be used to support passports, the electoral register, electronic voting and a wide range of other applications.
David Rippon, chairman of the BCS working group, said the Government should focus on a single objective, such as reducing identity fraud, or risk the project losing its way in a maze of conflicting demands.
"It is all about minimising the risk of failure. The best way is to have a very simple objective," he said.
A paper produced by the working group urged the Government to resist the temptation to create a single database of the population to support all the proposed applications.
"This would be a high-cost solution leading to many systems accessing one database, creating both a single point of failure and the potential for processing bottlenecks, resulting in unpredictable and lengthy response times," it said.
The group has advised the Government to appoint independent IT experts to advise on the project, rather than following the normal practice of relying on the advice of IT suppliers with a vested interest in maximising sales.