24 August 2006 | Paul Snell
The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has been ordered to reveal the outcome of its reviews of the ID card scheme.
The ruling follows Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, upholding two complaints made against the OGC and the Treasury. The departments had refused to release information on the outcome of gateway reviews into the ID card programme. Now they must publicise their findings. The gateway process examines government projects at five stages and issues a "traffic light" assessment.
A written parliamentary question submitted to the Treasury in May 2005 asked what traffic light status the OGC awarded the ID programme at its initial gateway review. When it refused to provide an answer, a complaint was made to the commissioner.
The Treasury and the OGC argued that releasing details would "discourage the future co-operation of those providing information" but Thomas said public interest and the need to be transparent and accountable were stronger than arguments to keep the information secret. He added that disclosure would "enhance public debate of issues such as the programme's feasibility".
The Treasury and the OGC have until 31 August to appeal against the ruling. If they do not appeal, they have until 7 September to disclose the information.
The Commons' science and technology select committee published a report on the ID card scheme in August, which said it was "disappointed with the lack of transparency surrounding the procurement process". It added that stakeholders consulted about the process were "not satisfied with the scope of the consultation", as reported in SM
(News, 20 July
The select committee has urged the Home Office to undertake further consultations on the procurement process. It also wants the department to publish a timetable detailing the technical specifications of the ID cards and to define procurement processes and stages.