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October 10, 2006

They're Lying!!

The bastards are lying again.

The cost of issuing biometric ID cards and running the data base that underpins the system will be £5.4 billion over the next 10 years, the Home Office said yesterday.

The forecast, which includes start-up and running costs, was immediately denounced as an underestimate by opponents of ID cards.

Quick numbers. 48 million or so adults, each having the card, the computers, the readers, the database, the taking of the biometrics etc etc etc. 5.4 billion?

112.50 per person over a decade? With all the changes that have to be made as people move house? Alter their details? That includes the costs to the individual as well as the system itself?

Pull the other one sunshine, got bells on it.

BTW, The photo on that card in the story is of a certain Anthony Charles Lynton Blair. Doesn't the little gobber know that you're not allowed to smile in passport photos any more?

October 10, 2006 in Your Tax Money at Work | Permalink


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Of course, they'll make YOU pay for the pleasure of having your details changed whenever you move, get married, etc., so this won't be included in their cost estimates.

They'll plan to make a profit on this, of course.

Posted by: HJHJ | Oct 10, 2006 11:11:43 AM

Let's do a comparison with another identity document, the passport. I have recently replaced my passport at a cost of £91 with one of the newfangled biometric thingumajigs. Let's say 75% of the population (45 million people) has a passport. Passports last for ten years, so every year 4,500,000 replacements will need to be issued, at a cost of £410 million, or £4 billion per decade. Are we seriously meant to believe that the cost of extending a vastly more extensive ID system to the entire population will have costs of the same order of magnitude? The new passports leverage off an existing (and actually rather well-run) infrastructure. The ID system is ab initio, and the infrastructure will have to be much more pervasive (card readers deployed everywhere they might be needed, for example). I think the running costs are more likely to be around £80 per person per year, £5 billion p.a.. How much will a card reader cost? With what frequency will they need to be replaced? Who will train people in their use? How will disputes be mediated? Will there be an ID card Ombudsman? Has anybody in Government even thought about this?

At a 5% discount rate, the Present Cost of £5 billion a year indefinitely is £100 billion. The IT task is much larger than the hideously expensive NHS system, which is running around the £50 billion mark now. There is scarcely a single large-scale government-backed IT project that has achieved its goals on-time and under-budget. There is no reason to believe this will be any different.

Summary: this is back of the envelope stuff here, but I'd be surprised if the lifetime cost of a successful ID system were less than £200 billion. The cost of an unsuccessful system doesn't bear thinking about. Work that cost back and I believe the true cost of the ID card system is more like £10 billion a year, minimum, for ever.

Posted by: David Gillies | Oct 10, 2006 5:29:40 PM