Sticking to the script nothing is possible


by David Moss

November 2008


Some time back, No2ID published a leaked document, the NIS Options Analysis. It’s worth revisiting. The Options Analysis is the script for deploying the NIS. And IPS are sticking to the script.

Which is strange, because it’s bombing at the box office.

There’s a point in the document where the author considers the so-called “trusted relationships” and “inclusion” models for the NIS:

Starting with students or other young people in first half 2009 seems to be the quickest option and aligns with HM [Treasury] thinking on preferred target groups. But it remains an extremely high delivery risk. It also relies on creating voluntary demand with other public/private stakeholders, with the consequent risk of rejection.

According to Jacqui Smith, people can’t wait for ID cards. But if people can’t wait for ID cards, it is odd that the dIPSticks have to target particular groups and that they face the risk of rejection. Surely the problem should be how to cope with the flood of demand?

It would be a mistake to gloss over “extremely high delivery risk” and “consequent risk of rejection”. The dIPSticks take those risks seriously. So should we.

You might have thought that the banks and the major retailers would be a pushover for the NIS. Wrong. Sir James said no.

Surely the airlines would be a pushover? All those people in uniform, meticulously following procedures, working in a quasi-military hierarchy? Wrong. They said no, too.

These are major rejections. The banks. The retailers. The airlines. The dIPSticks are supplicants. They have a service to sell. And if no-one will buy it, they have a problem. Just at the moment, it looks as though the private sector stakeholders can’t wait to say no to ID cards. They will just make life harder.

Actually, do they “have a service to sell”?

It’s all a bit vapourware at the moment.

Problem is, the prospective suppliers keep pulling out. Accenture don’t want anything to do with the NIS. Neither do BAe Systems. They’ve both had their names taken off the candidate list. So have BT. So have Steria.

Problem is, the dIPSticks can’t even specify what the service is. They keep asking us to do it for them!

Question: what do you call a service that can’t be specified and that no-one wants to consume and that no-one wants a contract to provide? Answer, in the opinion of six academics, you call it a ”fairy tale”. And in the opinion of a seventh academic, the dIPSticks are ”drowning”.

Still, at least the dIPSticks can count on the public sector stakeholders. Or can they?

1. DWP won’t allow anyone to claim benefits without an ID card, will they? Yes, they will.

2. DCSF (schools) and DIUS (universities) won’t let anyone have a state education without seeing an ID card, will they? Yes, they will.

3. The DoH won’t let anyone have non-emergency state healthcare without an ID card, will they? Yes, they will.

That’s three more failures for the dIPSticks’ sales strategy and several million more uninterested punters. The options analysis is running out of options to analyse. Precisely because the relationship with government is not a trusted relationship. And no-one wants to be included.

The dIPSticks can do what they like with passports and visas (with the co-operation of the FCO and HMRC). They can be utterly beastly. They can have their wicked way because that’s their bailiwick. But whenever it comes to convincing a prospective customer in another silo, they fail, they are rejected. They have an unbroken track record so far of failure.

Not surprising, really. Why would people agree to make their life harder? Why should people agree to this foreign invasion of their everyday life?

Worth bearing in mind, that untarnished scorecard, in our campaigning. It’s not so much we who need the audacity of hope. It’s the dIPSticks, who have to overcome that ”no, we can’t” feeling. Under Jacqui Smith, Sir David Normington and James Hall, at IPS, it seems that nothing is possible.


Which will no doubt remind everyone of that other leak, the leak to the Times, of the email correspondence between OGC and IPS back in June 2006:

OGC: This has all the inauspicious signs of a project continuing to be driven by an arbitrary end date rather than reality ... I conclude that we are setting ourselves up to fail ... the (un)affordability of all the individual programmes ... the very serious shortage of appropriately qualified staff and numbers of staff ... the lack of clear benefits from which to demonstrate a return on investment ...

IPS: I wouldn’t argue with a lot of this ... It was a Mr Blair who wanted the ‘early variant’ card. Not my idea ...

OGC: Just because ministers say do something does not mean we ignore reality - which is what seems to have happened on ID Cards ... I do not have a problem with ministers wanting a face saving solution ... a botched introduction of a descoped early variant ID Card, 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) ... My view based on present experience is that neither the Home Office or IPS should attempt challenging, they should be forced to do safe.

Stick to the script, dIPSticks, and failure is guaranteed. Don’t take my word for it. That’s what OGC think. And even IPS. It’s time for change.

David Moss has spent six years campaigning against the Home Office's ID card scheme.

2008 Business Consultancy Services Ltd
on behalf of Dematerialised ID Ltd