Feeds

MPs praise e-passport roll out

But there are challenges ahead

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes

MPs say project management of the first electronic passport has been an outstanding success.

The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) has been praised for its management of the introduction of the first type of e-passport, which contains an electronic chip storing biographical data and a digital facial image of the holder.

MPs on the public accounts committee said it was an "excellent example of successful project management and procurement" and urged the Office of Government Commerce to spread the lessons learned from the project across government.

But successful roll out of the second generation e-passport in two years will need a reconsideration of costs and the preparation of contingency plans, says the committee's report.

The e-passport is the first official British paper document to incorporate an electronic chip and includes security features which make it hard to forge and prevent unauthorised reading of the chip.

By September 2006 the IPS had reached 100 per cent production of the new e-passport, ahead of the deadline for staying within the US visa waiver programme. The agency used an exemption from procurement rules to amend its existing contract for passport production, rather than holding a competition.

However, warning of the challenge ahead, committee chair Edward Leigh said: "The introduction from 2009 of second generation e-passports, digitally storing holders' fingerprints as well as their photographs, will present an even more demanding implementation challenge.

"The best manufacturer's warranty which the IPS could get for the electronic chip embedded in the passport was for only two years, even though passports are valid for 10 years.

"The prospect of e-passport failures contributing to yet further delays at border controls is not an enticing one."

The report also recommends that the IPS eliminates areas of overlap between the e-passport and the national identity card scheme. The Home Office must explain why citizens need an identity card as well as an e-passport, it says.

Philippe Martin, senior analyst at Kable, said: "There's a distinct possibility that the cost of the e-passport could rise again, as the government seeks to pass on the additional costs of the second generation passport to the citizen.

"But on top of this, citizens will also have to pay for an identity card. This begs the questions, how far will public tolerance stretch in having to foot the bill for these innovations? Is this just another form of indirect taxation?"

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?