The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has ripped into a $24.8 million national Document Verification Service (nDVS) set up under the Howard Government as making little to no contribution to helping reduce identity theft.
In a scathing audit of the National Identity Security Strategy (NISS), of which the nDVS was one element, the auditor general noted that while identity theft costs the Australian economy upwards of $1 billion a year, little progress was being made in combating the trend.
"The current patchwork of identity–related credentials are of variable quality and accuracy, which exposes government, business and individuals to a variety of risks from not being able to verify a person is who they claim to be," the ANAO report reads in its overall conclusion.
The nDVS was the funded as part of the budget and has been deployed across several document issuing agencies.
"However, the system is rarely used and presently, it is making little contribution to the NISS objective of strengthening Australia’s personal identification processes," the report reads.
Additionally, the auditor general found the implementation of the nDVS is 18-months behind its original four-year time frame and has faced problems with obtaining user acceptance.
"Remedial strategies for the nDVS may include changes to the nDVS, assisting with changes to user’s systems and work practices, or considering the future of the nDVS itself. The current, very limited, use of the nDVS indicates that it is unlikely in the immediate future that use of the nDVS will significantly contribute to strengthening Australia’s personal identification processes."
The Attorney–General’s Department (AGD), which is responsible for the rollout, has accepted the ANAO's recommendations.