ID cards scheme feasible but challenging, suppliers warn

Potential suppliers for the national ID card scheme believe it is feasible and are interested in bidding for the work, according to a summary of survey responses released by the Home Office.

Potential suppliers for the national ID card scheme believe it is feasible and are interested in bidding for the work, according to a summary of survey responses released by the Home Office.

The document says “all respondents” believed the scheme to be feasible and, while recognising the challenges involved, “backed this up by indicating an interest in bidding for the procurement”.

It adds, “No respondents indicated a belief that the scheme is either ‘not viable’ or ‘very high risk’,” but notes that some respondents wanted a longer timetable for implementing the scheme.

But several respondents identified lack of market capacity as a potential problem, for the scheme, “particularly with the large number of public sector system integration contracts currently in rollout”.

The electronic document released by the Home Office - Procurement Strategy Market Soundings (PSMS) Feedback - is a presentation summarising the results of a market soundings excercise. A legal disclaimer notes that it is “not comprehensive”.

A “restricted” Home Office report, also called “Market Soundings” leaked to the Sunday Times last month, revealed that manufacturers were unwilling to get involved in the £5.8bn ID cards programme because of its unpopularity, amid fears that it “may compromise a company’s public image”.

The published summary warns that “the market’s ability to deliver required data centre capacity in time was not established conclusively and may require further investigation”.

It adds, “A number of respondents expressed a desire for further information to be made available on the timing, scope and funding of the planned biometrics technology trials.”

Tendering for the ID cards programme has now been held up by the Home Office pending a review as part of a wider examination of the department’s work.

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed that both the leaked document and the presentation were summaries drawn from the same Market Soundings excercise, with the leaked document also containing "a very early draft" of findings from "concept viability" workshops hosted by IT trade body Intellect.


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