Updated: The UK ID card project suffered another serious blow today with news that two potential suppliers have pulled out of the procurement process.
Accenture and BAE Systems have both decided not to chase contracts for the controversial scheme. A short list of possible suppliers is due to be published in the next few months but several firms have expressed discontent with continued government indecision. This blog post might just explain Accenture and BAE's early withdrawal.
Accenture, one of the government's central IT suppliers, told the FT it was pulling out for a mixture of "political and commercial reasons".
A BAE spokesman told El Reg: "We have withdrawn but it's for commercial reasons - at this stage our assessment is that our bid wouldn't deliver everything the project requires. We will continue to monitor the project with interest."
Leaked documents yesterday revealed that ID cards are unlikely to be issued to British citizens until 2012 - two years later than originally planned. The project is also suffering from the government's seeming inability to go more than two days without losing a large amount of private data.
The Home Office claims six companies are still keen - Fujitsu Services, CSC, EDS, IBM, Steria and Thales on bidding. A final list of five suppliers will be released by May.
Documents leaked yesterday reveal the Home Office will target teenagers for early take-up of the cards. Anyone wanting to open a bank account, apply for student funding or buy alcohol or cigarettes will be forced to buy an ID card.
An Accenture spokeswoman told us: "The Home Office/IPS is in the process of pulling together a list of companies that will then be eligible to bid for future work packages, which together will deliver the National Identity Scheme. On this occasion, we have decided not to seek to be selected for this ‘framework’.
However, we remain committed to our work in UK government. We are working in 6 major government departments delivering a number of successful and key programmes, including DWP CIS – a key building block for NIS – as well as NHS PACS and the eBorders programme at the Home Office."
There's more from the FT here. ®