David Cameron’s government has confirmed that they are folding the national identity cards scheme but this will apply only to UK nationals. This means that the two leading IT contractors working on this project will be saved from losing their jobs. The government plans to continue the scheme for “foreign nationals” alongside the biometric passport system.
Currently CSC has a contract worth £385 million to work on this scheme. It is their Application & Enrolment System which is responsible for the issue if the passports and ID cards. CSC contractors will be relieved by the news that the scheme is to partially remain, as will IBM. They have a £285 million contract with the National Biometric Identity Service. Their role in storing biometrics will now relate solely to passports and asylum seekers.
Speaking to ContractorUK Phil Booth of NO2ID commented: “IBM and CSC contracts will continue but will be scaled down in some aspects. There’ll clearly be no need to ramp up for second biometrics (involving fingerprints) in passports for the entire population, so NBIS and the enrolment element should be on a much smaller scale.”
It is expected that £86 million will be saved over the next four years through scaling back the scheme including decommissioning, asset write-offs and contract termination. Thales also hold a contract for destroying the National Identity Register but the savings made from not collecting cardholder fees, estimated at £800 million, is not included in the estimated savings figure.
Booth concluded: “The savings figures coming out at this stage are, I suspect, a bit conservative. There are savings to be had beyond the mere scrapping of the ID cards and Register, but far more complex negotiations need to take place before these will be clear.”