The Identity and Passport Service has claimed its identity card scheme is not "out of control", as the London School of Economics claims, but is being built on "uncertain" sands.
In an argument for "common sense" criticism of complex government IT projects, the IPS claimed that its cost estimates were likely to change with time. But the department has failed to respond to the other significant criticism of the IPS report - that there was a lack of information and lack of transparency that was an affront to democratic control of such a large and controversial project.
"With any cost estimates covering a ten year forward period there are uncertainties," said the IPS in a statement.
"The estimates in the report are therefore subject to change in the light of new information or assumptions and there is a significant probability that the estimates will change in the light of further experience. That is just common sense, and we committed to keeping Parliament updated".
It did not answer specific criticisms levelled by the LSE about the lack of information published about the scheme, such as the lack of information to explain the costings the IPS had produced, and the changes that had occurred in the last 12 months.
However, the IPS said: "It is simply not true though to claim that the Scheme is 'out of control': we are introducing the scheme incrementally, building on existing programmes to introduce more secure passports and immigration documents."
The scheme would be self-financing, it said, while it was becoming more essential for the state, businesses and individuals to prove people's identities more surely. Anyway, it said, the LSE's past analysis had contained weak assumptions.®