ID card report: “Umm… errr… we were… er… doing other stuff”

Id178 Last month, this blog brought you news of the Home Office's disgraceful decision to delay the publication of the National Identity Service Independent Assurance Panel's report into ID cards. The report, which concluded, the ID card system had been compromised by poor design and management, was submitted to the Home Office in December 2009, modified on 4 January this year and then published online in January.

Unwilling to accept this unneccessary delay in releasing the report to the general public, BBW submitted a freedom of information request to the Home Office.

The query, submitted by former BBW Director Alex Deane, was simple: "I wish to know why, when the report is dated “December 2009”, it was not released until 4 January 2011".

The response, however, was laughable:

"The ISAP annual reports have always dealt with calendar years and generally take two or three months to compile and be reviewed, and consequently have been published in the spring following the year to which they refer.

"In the case of the 2009 annual report, authorship of the report had transferred internally, and this, combined with other organisational changes which were happening at the time, made the report slightly delayed. By the time the report was nearing completion, other work assumed a higher priority."

For those unable to translate Home Office-speak, their response appears to indicate that they basically had other things to do and didn't consider it important enough to release to the general public in a timely manner.  How reassuring… 

ID cards ceased to be valid in the United Kingdom at 00:00 on 22nd January.

Posted by on Feb 9, 2011 in ID cards | 3 Comments


  1. Richard Craven
    9th February 2011

    I think you should relax about this. The present government ditched i.d. cards pretty promptly after coming into office, and quite right too. To my mind, it actually is quite reassuring that, having done the important thing in regard to i.d. cards, they concentrated on other priorities, and decided that the report into the affair could wait a bit. That just sounds like reasonably good governance to me.

  2. Andrew Watson
    10th February 2011

    The Home Office can’t say they didn’t know the public wanted to see the report, since this FOI request for it was filed on 20th August:
    @Richard Craven – No, we can’t relax. The Home Office has been denied the chance to fingerprint the entire population and register us on its database for now, but it still has the “ID cards for foreigners” scheme (a.k.a. biometric residence permits). This is an entire ID card scheme in miniature, that can be expanded and rolled out to the entire population the next time they get a sympathetic Home Secretary. These people don’t give up easily.

  3. Richard Craven
    10th February 2011

    Fair point. But I was only saying that we should be relaxed about the low priority which the Home Office gave to releasing a report about the abolition of id cards, given that abolition has taken place. You may very well be right that we should worry about the expandability of the scheme for foreigners. But I’m still feeling pretty relaxed about the delay in publishing the report.