Review delays start of ID card procurement

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Review delays start of ID card procurement

Procurement for the multibillion-pound UK national biometric identity card scheme will start only once the current Home Office review is completed.

Procurement for the multibillion-pound UK national biometric identity card scheme will start only once the current Home Office review is completed.

And an increasing emphasis on the concept of ID management, rather than just the cards themselves, suggests any final scheme could be quite different from the original security-focused plan.

When the General Election delayed the enabling legislation by 12 months, the government’s ID cards team said procurement would start as soon as the law was on the statute books.

But the tendering process still has not started, despite the bill being passed in March. The plans are now on hold pending completion of the review commissioned by Home Secretary John Reid when he took over from Charles Clarke in May.

The newly-created Identity and Passport Service (IPS) is keen to play down the delays.

At a conference organised by supplier body Intellect last week, IPS chief information officer Annette Vernon said there will be no commitments while the review is in progress, but that the wider program is already under way with the development of biometric passports.

The broader concept of ID management is central both to the Home Office review and to getting the most from ID cards themselves, said Vernon.

‘Often the focus is on the problems, but this could really make a difference to the citizen and the UK economy,’ she said.

Ian Watmore, head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, says the change in emphasis is fundamental.

‘This is about much more than the public sector and in time will be more about the private sector,’ he said.

‘In another 10 years business will be completely transformed, and ebusiness will mean people need some form of ID management more powerful than is currently available.’

In its original conception the plan was to develop a central identity register with basic information and biometric data from all UK adults. The first cards were due to be issued in 2008.

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