UK Liberty

No cost-benefit analysis of ID card scheme

Posted in ID Cards, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on April 3, 2008

Reading some Uncorrected Oral Evidence given as part of the inquiry into the Surveillance Society and came across this:

Q535 Ms Buck: Turning to identity cards, remind the Committee, in the regulatory impact assessment of the Bill was there a specific assessment of the contribution that cards would make to the particular strands that have been flagged up as significant? The immigration, the e-terrorism?

Mr McNulty: Specifically on each of those? I do not think so. I think it was a broad general regulatory impact assessment that normally goes alongside these pieces of legislation.

Q536 Ms Buck: Have you made assessments of that kind? In the Home Office, is there an assessment of what would be likely over, say, the course of ten years?

Mr McNulty: There have been broad policy assessments. You will know that the National Identity Scheme Delivery Plan 2008 has come out since Meg Hillier met the Committee to talk specifically about ID cards. Has there been a quantitative and empirical study of the benefits of ID cards specifically in the context of e-crime, cyber crime, terrorism, and illegal immigration? Not in that specific sense, no, because we are not futurologists.

Q537 Ms Buck: No, but surely —

Mr McNulty: Has there been substantive work done on the public policy dimensions associated with the benefits that were outlined in the original Bill and the original regulatory impact assessment? Yes. Are they detailed quantitative pieces of work? No, and I do not think that is extraordinary.

Q538 Ms Buck: No, but, on the other hand, if one is being asked to make a very substantial investment of public money in areas like terrorism it must be very hard to make that investment, but in areas like immigration and e-crime I would imagine it might have been possible to make an assessment of the cost benefit?

Mr McNulty: It is easier but it is still very difficult, not least because the Committee will know that on the identity theft side there are enormous innovations all the time as well, and almost as you come to such assessment the rules change in terms of what criminals do. As far as possible there is in public policy terms and more generally an assessment. I do not think I have seen any detailed, quantitative, mathematically sound piece of work done on the public policy consequences of a significant piece of legislation, certainly in the last ten years or, in studying politics, over the last thirty years.

Q539 Ms Buck: But on the issue of identity crime is not the whole point that the identity card is being put forward as a kind of Gold standard that would effectively mean that whatever criminals did to try and catch up, a DNA-based ID card, biometric ID card system would keep you —

Mr McNulty: Database.

Q540 Ms Buck: Biometric, sorry.

Mr McNulty: Yes, and those assessments have been done. If you are asking for the quintessential, comprehensive, all-singing, all-dancing, quantitatively, mathematically robust, cost-benefit analysis, no, it has not been done.

Q541 Ms Buck: No, I was not. I was asking for anything.

Mr McNulty: Well, there has been, and they have been released over the course of time. When I took the Bill through three years ago there was significant cost-benefit analysis work put into the public domain around some of those aspects. As you quite fairly say, it is more difficult in other regards.

Extraordinary.  After all this time, after all the reviews etc, after all the money, after all the promises, the Government still has no figures for how much money will be saved from us forking out £5.6bn (and the rest) for this ridiculous scheme.

What are among the common causes of project failure according to the Office of Government Commerce?

  1. Lack of clear link between the project and the organisation’s key strategic priorities, including agreed measures of success.
  2. Evaluation of proposals driven by initial price rather than long term value for money (especially securing delivery of business benefits).

Is this why the Government still refuses to hand over the age old OGC reports into the scheme?  Because they say there is no clue as to what benefits will be gained by us paying £5.6bn?

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One Response

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  1. FishNChipPapers said, on April 3, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    If it’s difficult to put a value on liberty I guess the Home Office must find it difficult to put a value on taking it away.


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