The government was warned about the technical feasibility and merits of its highly controversial £4.7 billion ID cards scheme, according to the just published findings of two Gateway reviews.
The reviews, conducted in 2003 and 2004 at the start of the scheme, had been kept under wraps but were finally released after the Information Tribunal last month ordered the government to release them.
The tribunal said the public deserved to know the results of the reviews because there “remains a perception that central government does not have a particularly good track record with regard to IT projects.”
It emerged that the authors of the reviews expressed “concern” the authorities that were supposed to benefit from the scheme were not in reality particularly enthusiastic about it.
The second report said early recommendations on project management and risk assessment were addressed by the government, but "many complex issues" remained, affecting feasibility and affordability.
"The main potential beneficiaries of an identity cards scheme, such as police, DVLA, Passport Agency, IND (Immigration and Nationality Directorate) DWP (Department for Work and Pensions), Inland Revenue, and the financial sector, though generally supportive, were not quite as enthusiastic about the programme as might have been hoped," the authors of the report wrote.