Although many rejoiced when the Coalition government scrapped the controversial ID scam earlier this year, there have been some casualties.
According to Home Office Minister of state Damian Green, there’s now £6.5 million worth of pre-purchased IT hardware sitting in boxes which will probably never see the light of day. Privacy groups have said this should make ministers “hang their heads in shame”.
Responding to questions by MPs about the overall investment that had been put into the programme, Green told the Commons that “in respect of the Critical Workers Identity Card and Early Interest Scheme” much kit had been bought in but had now been withdrawn and “securely stored”.
Alex Deane, director at Big Brother Watch, told TechEye: “I’d have a little schadenfreude – if only this wasn’t our money. This is a pretty obvious lesson for government – don’t buy intrusive kit for a controversial policy until you know it’s definitely going ahead.
“Those responsible for this can presumably try to redeem themselves by flogging it to a more authoritarian country, but it will be at a loss – either way, they should hang their heads in shame.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though the government shares the same ideas as Mr Deane. Instead of flogging the kit off in a bid to claw back some of the money – or at least to fund some ministerial port in time for the Christmas party – the government simply wants to chuck some of it, allegedly.
“Assets and IT equipment relating to the National Identity Register require disposal/destruction and the Immigration and Passport Service will ensure that this happens in line with agreed guidelines,” Green said.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom for all the neglected kit, with Green also claiming that as IT equipment is generally managed under contract by the Government’s IT service providers, “they will manage the re-use or disposal according to central government security policies.”
He also pointed out that his department had a general policy of “sharing, re-use and commonality of IT capabilities, in order to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve environmental sustainability”.
It is thought the scheme cost overall £300 million overall.