by David Moss
Speaking on 16 December 2008 to Intellect,
Jacqui Smith (the Home Secretary) said:
Safeguards, openness, proportionality and common
For the public to have confidence that we will protect
them and protect their rights, it is our responsibility as a government
to ensure that these standards apply even as technology evolves.
... I am equally clear that we have to measure these
efforts [robust powers to tackle crime and disorder] against our standards
for safeguards, openness, proportionality and common sense.
... I will continue to put safeguards and openness, a
sense of proportion and above all common sense, at the heart of everything
Her speech is entitled Protecting
rights, protecting society and, taken on its own, is thoroughly
It is a warning to Intellect that theyre going to have to raise
their game and it should strike terror into the heart of IPS if projects
are going to be judged henceforth on the basis of Safeguards, Openness,
Proportionality and Common sense. In that case, for them, the game
For the rest of us, this is progress. The Home Secretary has provided
us with the criteria by which to judge any Home Office initiative. They
are her criteria. She has volunteered them. We havent foisted them
She hasnt provided an inference engine, a machine on which you
just turn the handle and out pops a decision, we still need to think.
We may wish to add further criteria. The Home Secretary, too, may add
criteria. But at the core of any review/criticism/assessment of any Home
Office initiative, we now have SOPCom.
Take, for example, IMP. Not sure how to get started on assessing it?
What are the criteria by which it should be evaluated? SOPCom. SOPCom
gives you a way in, a way to get your ideas organised, a way to review
IMP on the Home Secretarys own terms.
It was a good day, 16 December 2008.
And actually is it Christmas or something? the good news
carried on next day.
The Civil Service Network carried an interview with Sir
David Normington on Wednesday 17th December 2008 at 12:33:
What are your priorities for 2009?
I think the key challenge for us is to connect better with peoples
real concerns on, for example, policing, crime and immigration. We need
to build public confidence that we are tackling effectively the things
that make people feel insecure in their daily lives.
How do you intend to achieve them?
We need to raise our game again in 2009. We need our people to be more
professional, more skilled and more knowledgeable about the issues they
are dealing with. We want our staff to be listening more to public concerns
and getting a first-hand view of the issues we are dealing with. We also
want good, confident relations with our key partners and stakeholders,
on many of whom we rely for the delivery of effective services.
Connect with peoples concerns? Build public confidence? Effective
tackling of insecurity? Professional, skilled, knowledgeable staff? Partners
and stakeholders? Delivery? IPS have had it.
Anyone who doubts that need only look at Encouraging
good behaviour, a 21 November 2008 article by Bill Crothers, executive
director commercial and chief information officer at the Identity and
With the government set to issue the first identity
cards to foreign nationals [only non-EEA foreigners, you should make
that clear] from next month, the £4.6bn National Identity Scheme
(NIS) is gathering momentum [no
... Operating constantly in the public spotlight ... [che?
can we see the OGC reviews now?] ... we have to build, at pace [with
years from now? 20 years from when David Blunkett fired the starting
pistol?] ... a secure way of storing the identity data of everyone
who lives and works in the UK.
... the NIS has important stakeholders right across government
and in the devolved administrations ... [not in DWP or DIUS or DCSF
or the DoH so, where? and if these stakeholders exist, why arent
their costs included in the NIS cost report?]
Relationships work on multiple levels personal,
professional and corporate. That means socialising is important ... [time
on for good behaviour?]
... we have agreed some novel commercial arrangements
by moving away from using fixed-price contracts for development work ...
Most of our development work is contracted on a target price basis ...
where we have to integrate deliverables from multiple suppliers, we create
an incentive pool to cover the expense of integration. If
there is money left over at the end of integration, it is shared between
all the suppliers involved and IPS [novel", perhaps, but
will costs be kept under control?].
When I started work as executive on this job in April
last year, a large team of people had been working on the NIS for nearly
four years. They had done some very good work [thats not what
OGC thought, neither
did the House
of Commons Science and Technology Committee, neither did the NAO],
but our pace is now quickening [not hard]. Within 14 months we
have ... Completed a framework procurement, linking five of the largest
industry suppliers to the NIS ... [what is a framework procurement?
why have so many prospective
suppliers removed their name from the list of candidates?] Completed
the procurement of the first component of the NIS, the systems that will
provide an ID card for critical workers ... [thats
card the airlines say is unnecessary. surely the first component of
the NIS is the cards for non-EEA foreigners, isnt that what you
said?] Launched about £1.5bn of additional procurements for
the strategic systems that will form the core of the NIS [such as?]
... Reinforced the political vision for the programme through a set of
clear public statements [you mean the political vision was wavering?
no-one knew why IPS is there? they still dont].
All programmes need competent, professional management
good planning, proper risk management, good controls but
in my view that is never enough. In the worst case what you can end up
with is a beautifully documented disaster. [quite]
The glacial pace of delivery at IPS is a mystery. There are two possible
explanations. Either they are olympically ineffectual. Or there is someone,
somewhere someone with the power to make things not happen
deliberately putting the brakes on. If the latter, a Merry Christmas to
you, and a Happy New Year.
David Moss has spent six
years campaigning against the Home Office's ID card scheme.
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Consultancy Services Ltd
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