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Treasury hires expensive lawyers to try to overturn the Decision Notice in our favour regarding Gateway Reviews of the Identity Cards Programme

Currently the status of the Office of Government Commerce appeal to the Information Tribunal against the Information Commiissioner's Decision Notice in our favour is:

Case No. Case name Type of appeal ICO ref Public Authority Involved Current Status Hearing time and venue Date Received by Information Tribunal
EA/2006/0068 Office of Government Commerce v The Information Commissioner FOI FS50070196 Office of Government Commerce Awaiting Chairmans directions   30/08/2006

It appears that the unlimited resoirces of the Treasury are being harnessed tot try to overturn this Decision Notice in favour of full disclosure of the reports we asked to be published in our FOIA request

Kablent reports via The Register:

Treasury fights to keep Gateway closed
'Defending integrity', apparently
By Kablenet
Published Friday 20th October 2006 09:27 GMT

The government has hired legal experts in an effort to block publication of Gateway reviews of the National Identity Card programme.

Legal representation will come from the Treasury's Solicitors department, which has had approval to bring in external legal experts and a Queen's Counsel to fight a decision by the information commissioner, Richard Thomas, that two Gateway Reviews on ID cards can be published. The use of legal experts is expected to cost between £20,000 and £50,000.

GC News understands that some senior government officials have quietly indicated they would prefer the Gateway Review system to be more open, while some on the industry side prefer to keep it discreet.

A spokesperson for the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) told GC News that the Treasury, the parent department for the OGC, will fight to protect the "integrity" of Gateway reviews.

"We will defend the integrity of the process and we have enough legal reasons to appeal (against the Information Commissioner's decision)," the spokesperson said.

"People on the project or programme (including suppliers and civil servants) speak honestly with no holds barred we need to preserve that. Our aim is to help projects and the programme work efficiently."

Other reasons for the secrecy include a belief that the reporting of the reviews could be taken out of context and create an inaccurate picture which would require additional resources to correct.

Thomas ruled at the time that the reports did not contain information which would cause participants to be less willing to contribute openly and fully in future Gateway Reviews.

He effectively quoted the Civil Service Code back at the Sir Humphreys - it is theduty of Civil Servants to provide , frrank and full advice and answers, to the best of their professional ability, regardless of whether that advice is ever published or not.

Gateway Reviews do not personally identify the respondents anyway, and even if the reviews sho that, in this case, perhaps, the Identity Cards Programme was a disaster from the beginning, so much time has elapsed, that they could claim that the correct action has already been taken to rectify the failings.

The OGC spokesperson said the Gateway Reviews, which look at project implementation work, have made savings of £1.5bn since 2003. The scheme was instigated and is run by OGC, which has refused all requests under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act for the results of two Gateways on ID cards to be published.

Initially, the OGC refused to provide copies of the reviews even to the information commissioner.

Computer Weekly reported that the commissioner wrote to the OGC asking for a hard copy of the reviews which were needed to reach a determination under the FoI Act. The commissioner had to get OGC specified assurances before the information was released to him.

In August 2006, Thomas ruled under the FoI Act that the OGC should publish two Gateway Zero Reviews on the ID Card scheme.

Gateway Zero looks at whether the government has the right skills to manage the programme, whether all the major risks have been identified, if there is a continuing need for new systems, and whether all the expectations for the programme are realistic.

If the OGC had accepted the commissioner's decision it would have opened the door for other Gateway reviews to be published on other risky IT projects such as the National Programme for IT.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Treasury hires expensive lawyers to try to overturn the Decision Notice in our favour regarding Gateway Reviews of the Identity Cards Programme:

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