The government's proposed ID card scheme is likely to be as risky as the NHS National Programme for IT, and could cost twice the estimated £5.4bn price tag, an independent review has concluded.
The review, the first to analyse the project based on the expected demand for ID card services, concludes that it is at "significant risk" of performance failure, which could delay the project and push up costs.
If ID cards are to deliver all the benefits claimed by the government, the infrastructure will need to process 3.4 million transactions a day, putting it on a par with the NHS IT programme for complexity, the report concludes.
"The NHS National Programme for IT has suffered from a number of high-profile performance issues over the past 12 months. These performance issues have an adverse impact on project budget, benefit and delivery timescales. Given the comparable level of expected demand for the UK Identity Cards Systems, similar issues are likely," said Danny Quilton, director of capacity planning and IT performance specialist Capacitas and the report's author.
Factors such as presenting biometric ID for international air travel, prescription exemptions and GP visits are all likely to put significant loads on the ID card infrastructure that will place the project at risk.
The government could reduce the risk of the project by trying to limit its scope and promising fewer benefits, the report concludes.
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