Electoral register database scrapped, at last

Back in 2009 I speculated that the plan for a centralised version of the country’s electoral registers (the CORE project) should win a prize for worst government IT project:

Back in early 2001 I sat in a consultation meeting where the project was being planned, with the data available on CD (ah! those were the days) and then securely online in early 2002 …

One of my favourite memories of this whole saga was when both the Electoral Commission and the Government in fairly quick succession carried out a consultation that went over pretty much the same ground. As a result, I was twice interviewed on the subject, being asked very similar questions each time – by the very same person, who happened to have changed jobs between the two in between the two interviews!

The other favourite memory will be discovering that the Government was fighting the Information Commission for the rights to shred the record of one of my interviews:

The idea, too, that what I said in an interview is so sensitive that it has to be exempted from Freedom of Information requests and the interview notes destroyed makes the interview sound far more interesting than it was. I doubt any terrorist would benefit from knowing my views on the merits of BS7666 and how BFPO addresses should be handled. (Perhaps if you read my words backwards in French a mysterious message revealing the keys to the nation’s nuclear deterrent emerges?)

But the serious point is that huge amounts of time (and hence money) has been spent on getting not very far over the years.

So this is excellent news:

Plans to create an expensive database of electors are to be abandoned saving taxpayers more than £11m, the Government has announced …

The Government will work with the Electoral Commission and others to consider other, less costly, ways to improve the provision of electoral registration information.

Scrapping is the right decision, even though some of the original motivations behind the project were good ones. Those involved in checking whether or not donations to parties or candidates are legally permissible would have found the job easier and more accurate had the database ever made it to a successful launch, for example. In the end, however, those potential gains were far too small compared to the long-running, money-eating project that was going nowhere, slowly.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Election law and News.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/24837 for Twitter and emails.

4 Comments

  • Pete Dollimore 26th Jul '11 - 9:00am

    Perhaps Labour would have us believe they were driven to set up this project by a sense of idealism (many would suggest darker motives for a national database) but the incompetence demonstrated by this huge waste is staggering.

    For goodness sake, it didn’t ever need to be much more than a name and address list. Surely to goodness they could have got most of the benefits they sought – and in the process made life easier for everyone who uses the data – by consulting on a standard format for data interchange and then specifying one. Or even just publishing a spec – like the good old British Standards. It isn’t difficult and would hardly have cost any money at all. Perhaps the failure was to be overly consultative on such a trivial thing?

    Personally I find it hard to believe anyone could be so foolishly wasteful of public resources for such small ambitions so I must conclude that indeed Labour’s aims must have been much deeper, and unspoken.

    Labour went for the diamond standard and what we’ve ended up with is less use than coal dust …

  • Ian Campion-Smith 26th Jul '11 - 9:48am

    Is it not ironic then that the party is in the process of establishing a national electoral register database! I hope it’s cheaper and more successful.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?




Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 3rd Sep - 1:01am
    This has the potential to get nasty and I don't like what I'm seeing. The UK and the EU need to be careful not to...
  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 3rd Sep - 12:31am
    John Dunn, Ukraine has a great deal to lose as a consequence of deteriorating relations with Russia and has sought to maintain its export trade...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 3rd Sep - 12:04am
    Liberals should continue arguing unfashionable causes, whilst not necessarily putting them in the manifesto. When it comes to Sterlingisation and the EU: I think Scotland...
  • User AvatarFrankBooth 2nd Sep - 11:55pm
    Tim13 - you suggested it was the cue for rump UK and Scotland to join the Euro. You'd have to deal with the implacably opposed...
  • User AvatarT-J 2nd Sep - 11:41pm
    OK, it's all very well and good to guarantee more powers, but I just don't have enough confidence in most of the people issuing that...
  • User AvatarDavid G 2nd Sep - 11:37pm
    +1 to what Martin said. The argument that current EU law or opinion doesn't allow something is pretty pathetic - the law will just have...