A $28 million Federal document verification program set up under the Howard Government to combating identity theft and other cybercrimes had made only "limited" progress and made little improvement to personal identification processes, the Auditor General has found.
The national Document Verification Service (nDVS) project got underway in 2006 as a central IT hub connecting all Federal, State and Territory agencies responsible for issuing identity documents - from drivers licences to birth certificates.
In addition to fighting online fraud and other white collar crimes, the nDVS was seen as a key plank in the Attorney General's emerging anti-terror measures.
The system sought to enable Government departments to check the authenticity of documents presented as identification by people accessing services or benefits - from Medicare to Centrelink to Veteran's Affairs.
But the Australian National Audit Office says in a report published today that few agencies have been connected to the nDVS system, and it is rarely ever used by anyone.
The first components of the verification service became operational in 2007 in conjunction with the complementary National Identity Security Strategy, which had been developed by the federal Attorney-General's department in conjunction with its state and territory counterparts.
The Auditor General says the verification service is used by other agencies an average of 10 times per day - despite having been designed to handle 250,000 transactions per day. Further, while the service had not yet found a false or forged document, it had generated large numbers of false negatives, creating an additional workload for connected departments.
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