Identity and Passport Service

Parliamentary & Correspondence Management Team

4th Floor, Peel Building

2 Marsham Street



Tel        (020) 7035 8889

Fax       (0870) 336 9175

Email  hqenquiries@ips.gsi.gov.uk

Web       www.ips.gov.uk


Mr David Moss



Reference:  FOICR 13728/10


Date:  17 March 2010


Dear Mr Moss




Thank you for your e-mails of 6 January and 4 March, in which you asked for a copy of the detailed trial report of the competitive trials developed and run by IBM.  Your request has been handled as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Further to our letter of 3 March, we are now in a position to provide you with a substantive response. I apologise for the delay in doing so.


I can confirm that the Identity and Passport Service holds the information that you requested. However, after careful consideration we have decided that the information is exempt from disclosure under sections 43(2), 41(1) and section 31(1)e of the Freedom of Information Act. These sections provide that information can be withheld where disclosure would or would likely to prejudice:-



Arguments for and against disclosure in terms of the public interest, with the reasons for our conclusion, are set out in the attached Annex.


These exemptions apply to the vast majority of the report you have requested, to the extent that the redacted version would hold no useful information.


If you are dissatisfied with this response you may request an independent internal review of our handling of your request by submitting a complaint within two months to the address below, quoting reference FOICR 13728/10:-





Information Access Team

Home Office
Ground Floor, Seacole Building

2 Marsham Street

London SW1P 4DF

e-mail: info.access@homeoffice.si.gov.uk 


As part of any internal review the Department's handling of your information request will be reassessed by staff who were not involved in providing you with this response. Should you remain dissatisfied after this internal review, you would have a right of complaint to the Information Commissioner as established by section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act.


Yours sincerely





Hazel Reid

Parliamentary and Correspondence Management Team




Public Interest Test


Sections 31(1)(e) and 31(1)(a)

There is a general public interest in increasing the public awareness of the steps taken to ensure that requirements in relation to the security and operation as underpinning the contracts for services to be delivered by the National Identity Service are robust. In particular matters in relation to the protection of information and systems, there is a public interest in ensuring that resources have been correctly deployed and requirements properly articulated, taking into account the nature of the services that will be delivered by the National Identity Service, and its role in preventing offences. Disclosure could assist in the public understanding into the resources available to counter potential threats to UK citizens, helping to ensure informed public debate. Disclosure of this type of information also demonstrates openness, transparency and accountability in how resources are used in preventing and detecting offences.


Some of the information in the performance trials relates in detail to the security and operational requirements, including details of the biometric false rejection and false acceptance trade-off. We consider that release of this information would lead individuals or groups to presume that the tests accurately reflect the totality of current immigration controls and processes that underpin the National Identity Services. Disclosure could lead to offences such as terrorism, illegal immigration, fraud and computer misuse being perpetrated. In addition disclosure could affect the integrity of the National Identity Service’s role in providing a reliable way of proving and verifying the identity of individuals, and therefore the ability to prevent identity related crime, would be undermined.



Sections 43(2) and 41(1)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

There is a general public interest in being open about the performance results of government systems.  This can serve to demonstrate that departments have exercised due diligence when assessing commercial suppliers’ products as part of the ICT procurement process and that public money is not wasted.


Some of the information in the contracts relates to information about the successful and unsuccessful bidding suppliers’ system performance, environment design, testing strategies and their operating models. We consider that its release would prejudice the ability of the parties in relation to future commercial contract negotiations, which would not be in the public interest. The information would provide the suppliers’ competitors with information that could be used to put the suppliers at a disadvantage in future ICT procurements, i.e by replicating proprietary configurations and designs. In addition, although the test configurations used by both successful and unsuccessful suppliers were specific to IPS requirements, potential customers would be aware in advance of the performance results which would put the suppliers at a disadvantage when negotiating future contracts. It would not be in the public interest for major suppliers to government to be put at such a disadvantage, or for the suppliers’ relationship with IPS to be subject to detriment. In addition disclosure could deter other suppliers from contracting with government departments, which would reduce the scope for government departments to obtain value for money and the right expertise in future procurements. 


Similarly, should its negotiated positions be disclosed, IPS would be put at a disadvantage in relation to future procurements to support the National Identity Service or other ICT procurements. It would not be in the public interest for a government department to be placed at such a disadvantage when negotiating contracts.


After careful consideration we have concluded that the balance of the public interest lies in withholding the information.