Sunday, July 09, 2006

The ID emails

I've just taken a look at the emails raising all the excitement and they are pretty damning. David Foord, Mission Critical Director (Identity and Defence) [Office of Government Commerce] says:

"I conclude that we are setting ourselves up to fail. This is based on:

my conversations with stakeholders about:

the amount of rethinking going on about identity management (which at best will provide an agreed vision and some signposts by end July),

  • the (un)affordability of all the individual programmes,
  • the very serious shortage of appropriately qualified staff and numbers of staff,
  • the lack of clear benefits from which to demonstrate a return on investment,
  • the concerns about the lack of requirement documentation, and in addition:
  • that ministers probably will not make a quick decision on papers submitted so the July date will slip badly,
  • the likely hiatus caused by the summer holidays,
  • the need surely to at least brief the new cabinet committee (IM),
  • the need to involve the players on the yet to be established Public/Private forum,
  • almost certainly a requirement for a Gate 0 on the programmes and Gate 2's on the projects,"

  • Peter Smith, Acting Commercial Director, IPS [Identity and Pasport Service], says:

    "I wouldn't argue with a lot of this David; share your concerns about TNIR timescale certainly, and the 'wider scheme' implications where still issues about joining up I think across the HO. We should talk... but 2 points in our defence...!

    1. It was a Mr Blair who wanted the 'early variant' card. Not my idea...

    2. The procurements we will (we hope) launch in the next few months - not the TNIR but things like APSS and contact centre - are all necessary (essential) to sustain IPS business as usual, and we are designing the strategy so that they are all sensible and viable contracts in their own right EVEN IF the ID Card gets canned completely. So also less dependence on business case approval etc."

    No doubt Mr Blair wil be furious and these men will get hauled over the coals and the government will go after the person who leaked the memos rather than address the substantive points raised. Yet both the meo writers and the leaker deserve a pat on the back for being realistic (Foord more than Smith) and the leaker for letting the us know there are folks at high level thinking reasonably about the scheme. Rational thinking, however, as I point out in my book, is all too often an insufficiently strong barrier to resist decisions which lead to catastophic failure.

    Update: John Lettice in the Register has some thoughts.

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