L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

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09 July 2006 Blog Home : July 2006 : Permalink

Doomed to Fail, Loved by Bureaucrats

The Wapping Liar has found some evidence that even the civil servants in charge of implementing the ID card scheme think it is destined for failure according to their emails. God forbid that I (and Tim W, Samizdata & everyone else) should gloat and say "We told you so", but well we pretty much did. For example I wrote a while back about how this was going to lead to full employment for the fuck up fairy. The fact is that this program is demonstrating just about every symptom of a project destined to fail abysmally and, unlike "David Foord - Mission Critical Director (Identity and Defence)", I am hopeful that a failure will indeed "put back the introduction of ID Cards for a generation".

That sentence comes from an absolutely perfect "Sir Humphrey" paragraph in the email:

I do not have a problem with ministers wanting a face saving solution, but we need to be clear with the programme team, senior officials, special advisors and ministers etc just what this implies. They need to understand this, because a botched introduction of a descoped early variant ID Card backed by TNIR, if it is subject to a media feeding frenzy (queues outside passport offices! and more recently IND) - which it might well be close to a general election, could put back the introduction of ID Cards for a generation and won't do much for IPS credibility nor for the Govt's election chances either (latter not our problem but might play with ministers).

Now clearly this would-be whitehall mandarin is not going to comment in this sort of email about the civil liberties etc. issues, but it is entirely clear from the tone of the email that David Foord can't wait to get his hands on the private data of all UK residents ASAP. Whether this is from motives of petty empire building or something more sinister is unclear but he obviously likes the idea of snooping on the resat of us. Clearly the joke about "Civil Servant" being neither "Civil" nor "Servant" rings ever more true.

On that note it is amusing that the BBC reports that the bureaucracy is unhappy to report how much this ID card scheme is supposed to save the goernment in benefit fraud:

The government is battling to ensure that estimates of the benefits and risks of identity cards remain secret.

The freedom of information watchdog ordered the Department of Work and Pensions to publish its findings about how the cards could fight ID fraud.

Now the department has decided to appeal against the information commissioner's ruling.

The Lib Dems say it is disappointing the government is still trying to "cover up the facts about ID cards".

Home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said: "The public has a right to know if the billions of pounds the government is committing to this massive project will be money well spent.

"It is a measure of the government's failure to justify ID cards that during the passage of the bill they never once released a full estimate of its costs and impact."

This is classic behaviour from a bunch of bureaucrats who realize that if the figures are published the entire business case will collapse. I'm going to guess that the estimate is that maybe £10 million per year is estimated to be saved thanks to the ID card scheme and given that the cost is somewhere over £1 billion this seems a tad difficult to justify.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin