Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The government, IT and ID

This government and all governments before it has a shocking record on IT projects. Routinely handed out to one of a small band of suppliers, they are always over budget and late - very, very late - and invariably don't work properly. This not working properly is one of the major sticking points of the whole ID cards (see this blog passim) thing - i.e. if it's not terribly secure, any Tom, Dick or Harry could swipe your identity like that. The possibility of this unnecessary system being hugely expensive, given the track record of government IT projects, is another angle from which to attack it.
In order to save money, according to Home Secretary John Reid, there won't be a new, single ID system. Instead, three existing systems will be used to see this through. This further proves that the government has no idea about what this type of project entails. This will not save money. You have three existing systems, designed (hopefully) and developed to do a specific thing. You now have to mangle those three systems to do something new. You then require interfaces to be developed to ensure these three systems can talk to each other - bear in mind these systems could each be from a different supplier and/or on different platforms, but almost certainly will not have been designed with communication channels to the other two in mind. These aren't going to be 10-minute jobs. They are time consuming and difficult tasks. Trust me. I've worked on similar.
And what are these three systems? The only one we know of is the Dept. of Work and Pensions Customer Information Service. Would checks on ID, therefore, also flag up issues with benefits? Not exactly a fanciful leap of logic.
The proposed ID card system is an utter farce and will remain so. This half-assed attempt to justify it by trying to make it cheaper just exacerbates that fact.

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