Following the feeble disclosure from the Office of Government Commerce regarding our FOIA request for the now out of date Gateway Reviews of the Home Office's Identity Cards Programme, we asked for an internal review.
As feared, this has not elicited any more information about the Identity Cards Programme.
All the arguements used about why it is allegedly not in the public interest to disclose these Gateway Reviews, are exactly what the Civil Service marshalled against the whole concept of Freedom of Information. Where is the alleged "culture change" that the years of preparation and training for the Freedom of Information Act should have produced ?
Is "Sir Humphrey Appleby" still in charge ?
Has this FOIA request been deliberately delayed by the politicians and spin doctors, for the full statutory 20 working days, followed by a further 15 working days for "public interest balancing", followed by another month of "internal review", simply to avoid producing any answers which might have informed the debates during the various stages of the controversial Identity Cards Bill ?
How can it be that the high level details of actual project objectivesa and risks, for the Identity Cards Programme, a multi-billion pound project, with massive implications for the whole relationship between the State and the Citizen will not emerge until the project disaster that many people fear, has already wasted our money, and compromised both our civil liberties and national security ?
The Criminal Records Bureau disaster happened because the basic assumptions of how the public would use the service were wrong i.e. the assumption was individual disclosure applications via a web page, in real life there were multiple, bulk disclosure requests via post and by phone.
Why doesn't the Government publish these so called Gateway Reviews, without personally identifying any of the civil servants and consultants, only their conclusions and recommendations ?
Having exhausted the internal appeal process, only now is it possible to submit this FOIA request to the Information Commissioner for a ruling.
Presumably the "Department for Constitutional Affairs Clearing House for Freedom of Information Act enquiries" mentioned in the reply below, is the "secret spin unit" which this article in The Independent refers to ?
Internal Review reply: