Friday, June 29, 2007

Government IT on a grand scale

Grandiose statements are not uncommon for any Government really, but our current Lords and masters do love to make them. Take for example the Department of Health, which often says that the abortion known as NHS Connecting For Health, is "the largest civilian IT programme in the world". Now, this may indeed be a true statement, and if it it is also the largest completely bloody mess of an IT programme in the world as well. However, on what evidence does such a statement have any basis in fact?

It seems, according to Caroline Flint - who I am assuming is still a Health minister today - the answer is none. When she was what the second largest IT prgramme in the world was she admitted that no actual research has taken place, and that the statement was based purely on the Government not being aware of anything bigger. Apparently the statement is based on its 1.3 million user base - that is probably users with accounts in the system, not actual active users incidentally. Along with it being the largest virtual private network and it's plan to having 50 million records including digital images and pateint care records.

Of course the claim that the Government doesn't know of any larger civilian IT programme is, as ever, nonsense. Two days ago for example Joan Ryan made a statement to the Commons about SISone4all and VIS. It's OK, I'd never heard of them either at first so let me explain.

SISone4all is the replacement to SIS and SIS+1 and is the Schengen Information System. This system is an EU wide database system that exists for the sole purpose of maintaining and distributing information related to border security and law enforcement under the Schengen Agreement Application Convention. The UK Goevrnment has use and access to the secure system, but does not submit data to it.

VIS meanwhile is the Visa Information System. Again the UK (and Ireland) do not submit information to it (yet) but do have access to it. It's another EU database which contains 70 million records of every visa issued by each member state in the EU. Those records contain photographs and all ten fingerprints of the individuals if you're wondering.

So what's my point? Well for a start the claim that the NHS Connecting for Health is some how unique in its size and data capacity is firstly bollocks; secondly the Government knows it's bollocks; and thirdly, if you think the National Identity Database is bad, you ain't seen nothing yet. Whilst the Government remains outside SISone4all and VIS for now, Joan Ryan made it clear that the issue of joining "will be explored further".

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