There is money to be made from supplying these front office services. There are costs involved, as well, both monetary and reputational. The chairmen and chief executives of the prospective suppliers need to calculate what the expected return is. It may be sensible to invest in this project. It may not.
There are many matters to consider. 32 of them are addressed in a paper entitled A risk assessment for prospective suppliers to the UK NIS
. It is hoped that the chairmen and chief executives concerned will avail themselves of this resource.
This business opportunity hasn't appeared out of the blue. A November 2008 paper entitled Government of the segments by the segments for the segments
gives some of the history.
The government expressed the hope that the nation's chemists would take on the job of registering everyone's biometrics. Pharmacy
magazine commissioned an opinion piece, Talking point
. The points raised there are relevant not only to pharmacists but also to any interested business.
Since March 2006, when the Identity Cards Act came into force, the Identity & Passport Service have thought it best not to set up their own national network of registration centres. Why? Woolworths went bust, releasing 1,400 high street shops onto the market and IPS failed to buy them. Why? First Quench went bust a few months ago, releasing hundreds of Threshers and Wine Racks shops onto the market and, again, IPS failed to buy them. Why?
Meanwhile, Peter Mandelson has expressed the hope that registration services could be provided by post offices.
Which leaves prospective bidders with further questions to ask. The Home Office is wary of trying to do national registration itself. If they can't, why should Boots the chemists, or whoever, be able to? On the other hand, if Boots the chemists could do the job, they could be undermined at any moment by government competition, caused by the political need to rescue the post office network.
It's an interesting decision for the prospective bidders. With its customary openness, we can no doubt look forward to the Home Office telling us at 12:01 p.m. next Monday how many bidders have expressed an interest:
Time-limit for receipt of tenders or requests to participate:
11.1.2010 - 12:00.
DATE OF DISPATCH OF THIS NOTICE: