A white paper has been released that predicts that the level of business demand for the planned UK identity (ID) cards system will present a serious risk to project delivery.

Capacitas, the IT capacity and performance specialist made the claim in its white paper which, for the first time, quantifies the expected business demand for the ID card service.

It said the expected demand for business processes will total 1.2 billion each year, which is comparable to the ongoing, £6-billion National Health Service (NHS) National Programme for IT, which has also faced major criticisms from political, medical, academic and IT professional bodies.

Capacitas estimates that this scale of demand presents a significant risk to the project as system performance issues are more likely to occur when attempting to meet demand of this magnitude. It suggested that performance issues may manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including high end-user response times and prolonged periods of service unavailability, resulting in project delays and cost overruns. In addition, performance issues are more likely to occur when system development is outsourced.

Danny Quilton, Capacitas chief operating officer said: “The NHS National Programme for IT has suffered from a number of high-profile performance issues over the last twelve months. These performance issues have an adverse impact on project budget, benefit and delivery timescales. Given the comparable level of expected demand for the UK Identity Cards System, similar issues are likely to surface in this project.”

The white paper also claimed the scale of the expected demand will also have a direct bearing on the eventual cost of deploying the UK Identity Cards system.

While independent attempts to quantify the cost of the ID card project in the past have been rebuffed by government, the capacity and performance specialist said both the level of business demand and the potential extent of the service across government departments points to costs of the same order as the NHS National Programme for IT.