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Whitehall to boost identity spend by £5.2bn

Major projects propel pork binge

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Public sector spending on identity management (IdM) is set to surge by £5.2bn in the next four years, according to a new Kable report.

Spending on IdM is ready to leap by almost 50 per cent next year from £825m to £1.23bn, propelled by major programmes such as the National Identity Card Scheme, e-Borders, the Police National Database, and the National Offenders Management Systems.

Total IdM spend in the period 2008-2011 will amount to £5.2bn. This follows a prolonged period of strong growth since 2000 when total IdM spend was just £135m, and maintains the trend of central government being the biggest spender.

Identity management in the UK public sector until 2011 forecasts that the market will remain vibrant for the next four years, but growth will slow down after next year due to price erosion and a tendency of organisations to act more cohesively and purchase in groups.

This trend has already begun, with the growing use of the Government Gateway as an authentication platform and projects such as the National Education Network gathering steam.

By the end of the decade there will be no new large projects but a growing emphasis on the integration of existing systems. The report says an example of this could be the integration of the Home Office's National Identity Register with other government departments.

The main driver at the local level will be the increasing use of smart cards for local authority services and to pay for public transport.

Behind the growth is the government's well publicised desire to deal with identity fraud, illegal immigration, and the threat of terrorism, along with the drive for government bodies to share more information in integrating services. The latter has to include a strong element of IdM to ensure officials only have access to the information appropriate to their roles.

It could, however, run into problems deriving from fears over the development of a "surveillance society", worries over the reliability of databases and biometric technology, the attractions that new systems could provide for fraudsters, and implementation delays.

Kable senior analyst Philippe Martin said government could not ignore these issues and that they could have an effect on the market.

"The huge potential for growth of identity management solutions will rely on the government's ability to provide its citizens with a sense of empowerment and standardise the use of identity practices," he said. "It will take many years to get there, as many large, complex legacy systems will have to change.

"Failure to do so may generate a degree of opposition that could stand in the way of efforts to harness the potential of IdM."

The report outlines some of the future developments that could deal with the problems, including:

  • A "federated identity", in which users would be authenticated once for use across many systems.
  • Multiple identifiers, where the requirements for identification would vary according to the purpose.
  • The possibility of a "phone number for life", which could be part of the National Insurance number.

Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of the report should contact Matt Phelan on 020 7061 3235 or matthew.phelan@kable.co.uk.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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