The £23 passport – medicine for the sick man of Whitehall
The innovation highway, by PA Consulting
Here in the UK, passports are issued by the Identity & Passport Service (IPS), an executive agency of the Home Office.
Two months ago, BCSL asked HM Treasury why a ten-year adult passport costs £77.50. There is a good case that the price should be something more like £23. The Treasury asked IPS to answer on their behalf and IPS said, effectively, that the price is £77.50 because the price is £77.50. Thank you, IPS.
IPS are currently the sick man of Whitehall. Despite unlimited political support from the previous government, and an unlimited budget, they failed comprehensively to make ID cards a reality. They spent £292 million of our money and there is nothing to show for it. Absolutely nothing. Other government departments will now have nothing to do with them, they are tainted, they just can't do anything right.
The Cabinet Office's doomed project to deliver public services over the web – ignoring the well-publicised dangers of cyber crime and cyber warfare – to citizens all neatly identified by an electronic ID, makes no mention of IPS. IPS are meant to be the experts on identity management. But IPS no longer exist. They have become outcasts.
The same fate awaits the Cabinet Office, of course, if they don't change tack but, in the meantime, we can't have IPS ostracised, they must be welcomed back into the communion, say BCSL:
One step IPS can take on the way to reintegration is to put the price of a passport back down to the level it should be. That would leave a billion pounds where they should be – in the pockets of millions of long-suffering Brits. But the big step advocated by BCSL is for IPS once again to do its job, itself, and not hand it over to consultants ...
... consultants who produce facetious pictures like the one above. That's what causes £23 passports to cost £77.50. Getting rid of them – dumping them in the Car Park of Antiquity – with the help of the National Audit Office, will bring the price back down to reality.
Notes to editors:
1. Passport fees do not form part of government expenditure. They are unlikely therefore to be considered by the various Browne and Green reviews currently being conducted. If you don't help to bring the cost of a passport down, the British public will continue to be – this is BCSL's allegation – over-charged.
2. PA Consulting picked up a gold award for their work on the British passport on 19 April 2010, the day the election was announced. "The process was completed four months earlier than scheduled", they say. Why? So that it would be too late for a new government to unpick their work? It's hardly the same scale as aircraft carriers. But it's in the same class.
3. PA Consulting have been expensively retained to advise the government on identity management for over ten years. The failure of the ID cards scheme is as much PA Consulting's failure as IPS's.
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Press contacts: David Moss, BCSL@blueyonder.co.uk