The National Database Organization (NDO) was established under the Ministry of Interior as a sister organization to undertake the task of handling the data being collected through National Data Forms during the Population Census in 1998. The National Data Forms (NDFs) were designed by a committee of experts encompassing maximum social and fiscal indicators as implements for future planning, documentation of the economy, and for creation of a comprehensive Citizens' Database. To cater to a cohesive and unified approach in both registration and social fields, NADRA was formed on 10th March 2000 by merging the National Database Organization (NDO) and the Directorate General of Registration (DGR). It is an independent corporate body with requisite autonomy.
NADRA was formed to aid the government in developing and implementing a fact-based system of good governance in the country to encounter undocumented population growth and register items belonging to its citizens and organizations.
It was established with the objective of evolving a new, improved, and modernized system of registration for the citizens of Pakistan, to undertake the collection of demographic and geographic data. Initially, the main objective was the issuance of state-of-the-art National Identity Cards (NICs) to all eligible citizens of Pakistan. These NICs were backed by a computerized database and a data warehouse respectively called the Citizens' Database and National Data Warehouse (NDW). This comprehensive Citizens' Database was completed at the dawn of the new millennium and is regularly updated based on the National Data Forms.
NADRA Headquarters is located in the historic State Bank Building which was previously the National Assembly Building, and in its historic Parliament Hall the 1973 Constitution was passed. It has five provincial headquarters namely, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and three Regional Head Quarters located at Sukkur, Multan and Sargodha.
NADRA has established a countrywide Data Communication Network linking the Central Data Warehouse with eight regional hubs across the country. From here applicant data is regularly updated and monitored through direct inputs from different user agencies. The data that is regularly updated at provincial and district offices is comprehensive including statistical, geographic and complete biographic details of every citizen. NADRA has made Pakistan the first country in the Muslim world to develop a fully integrated and centralized system of registration through technologically advanced and efficient computerization and automation.
NADRA has been empowered under the President's Ordinance no. VIII of the year 2000 to facilitate the registration of all persons in the establishment and the maintenance of multipurpose databases, Data Warehouses, networking, interfacing of databases and related facilities. Under the ordinance NADRA must ensure and provide security, secrecy and necessary safeguard for the protection of data and information and shall perform and exercise any other power as may be by entrusted to or vested in the Authority by the Federal Government. NADRA is authorized to seek advice for carrying out its work. It is further authorized to charge fees, and other sums for its services, to carry out research studies, surveys, experiments and other investigations.