Home Office stays mum on ID risk

The Home Office has rejected Computer Weekly's application under the Freedom of Information Act to publish the risks relating to the ID cards scheme, or the "traffic light" results of three Gateway reviews by the Office of Government Commerce.

The Home Office has rejected Computer Weekly's application under the Freedom of Information Act to publish the risks relating to the ID cards scheme, or the "traffic light" results of three Gateway reviews by the Office of Government Commerce.

The rejection is listed as one of the reasons for this magazine's call for more openness over the ID cards scheme in a formal submission to the House of Commons Public Administration Committee.

Computer Weekly had been asked to give written and verbal evidence to the committee on the implications for public services of the ID card scheme.

The decision by the Home Office to refuse to publish even an edited version of the scheme's "risk register" is an anomaly.

Other public authorities have acceded to Computer Weekly's requests under the Freedom of Information Act to publish risk registers.

The risk register assesses the uncertainty associated with a project being appraised, the likelihood of each risk occurring, and estimates its impact on the outcome of the project.

Some of the risks that appear frequently on registers relate to whether a project is affordable, and whether the in-house team has sufficient skills to manage the project successfully. Registers are normally updated regularly.

In its rejection notice, the Home Office said, "The risk register relates to the detailed policy for the identity cards scheme, which remains under development and is subject to agreement by ministers."

It claims the information in the register is exempt from disclosure because it "relates to the formulation and development of policy". Also, some of the information relates to commercial interests, said the Home Office.

The department also refused to say whether the three Gateway reviews so far undertaken on the ID cards scheme had given the project red, amber or green lights.

Home Office minister Andrew Burnham told MPs last week that the next Gateway review for ID cards is planned for early 2006.

 

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