The Home Office today appointed PA Consulting as development partner for the projected UK national identity card scheme. PA's role will be to work on the "design, feasibility testing, business case and procurement" of the scheme, but will not be allowed to bid for any of the supplier contracts.
David Blunkett, who has previously been heard claiming that a string of IT disasters provided the Home Office with precisely the experience needed to avoid an IT disaster, commented:
"This is an ambitious, long-term project which will be introduced incrementally over a number of years. We are determined to get it right, and bringing in expertise from outside Government at this early stage will help us do that.
"Experience from previous projects has shown that early detailed work on feasibility and testing reduces the risks and increases success. Our work with our development partner is one of the key parts of our programme of work leading to the issuing of the first identity cards from 2007/8."
It would be nice to think that PA, being a reputable company, will now fail the ID scheme at the feasibility and business case stages, given that it manifestly is not feasible, and has no discernible business case. But we fear this will not happen.
The ID scheme will be subject to the Office of Government Commerce's Gateway Review process, a system implemented by the OGC with the intention of making sure Government IT projects actually get delivered, working, on time, to budget. The Gateway process has only been in place for a couple of years now, so hasn't really had time to prove itself one way or the other. But we note that it's been TMed in the hope that it might be worth stealing.
By a miraculous coincidence, among the many government projects PA has been involved in is the biometric smart card scheme carried out for the Home Office's Immigration and Nationality Directorate. This is the ID card precursor the IND uses to keep tabs on asylum seekers. ®