CSC and IBM win ID contracts

The Identity and Passport Service has announced the impending awards of two of the National Identity Scheme’s main contracts to CSC and IBM

This interview showed that the Identity and Passport Service, responsible for delivering the national identity scheme, was carefully planning for a future without ID cards in April 2009. All articles on ID cards here.

Powered by article titled “CSC and IBM win ID contracts” was written by SA Mathieson, for on Tuesday 7th April 2009 11.41 UTC

The two firms are the preferred bidders for the contracts, which will be signed later this month.

CSC will be paid £385m over 10 years, having beaten Fujitsu to deliver the application and enrolment contract for passports and identity cards. IBM has won out over Thales to establish and run the national biometric identity service for the same period, for which it will receive £265m.

The costs are at the low end of the estimates made by home secretary Jacqui Smith in December, when she said application and enrolment was likely to cost £350m to £450m, and the biometric service £200m to £250m over seven years. The cost for the latter over that period will be £215m.

IPS executive director Bill Crothers said the values had fallen by “tens of millions” over the past few months of negotiation. “That was a function of competitive pressure,” he told GC News. “In today’s economic circumstances, all four companies were very hungry.”

He added that the values may change slightly, although the vendor’s profit margin would fall to mitigate any increases, and IPS has open book access to their accounting.

The application service will replace the existing passport application service provided by Siemens, which expires in early October, as well as other contracts, including one with Atos which ends in August.

The biometric service, which will hold fingerprints and digital facial photographs for passports, identity cards, will also act as a replacement for the UK Border Agency’s existing Immigration and Asylum Fingerprint System, which already has 4m entries from visa applicants.

Crothers said that IPS has decided for now to continue use of the digitised facial photographs already found in e-passports, rather than more sophisticated facial scans. “We’re not planning at the moment to use facial recognition,” he said.

He added that IPS is talking to about 15 organisations “with a high street presence” about taking the photos and fingerprints for passports and cards, which will start in “the back end of 2011”. These include firms such as supermarkets, pharmacies, opticians and photo booth operators.

“It wouldn’t be a monopoly,” said Crothers. “You’d have a choice.” Users can expect a range of prices and service arrangements, he added.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith recently told Parliament that it would cost around £40m to cancel the identity card programme, as the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties have pledged to do. Crothers qualified this with the statement that: “The £40m is the top end of the termination fee,” and the figure would depend on a wide range of factors.

He said that IPS had based its calculation on the complete cancellation of the identity card design and production contract, which it expects to award this autumn, with Fujitsu, IBM and Thales shortlisted. Of the two contracts awarded today, Crothers said a cancellation would have little impact on the application and enrolment system.

“There are little elements to do with ID cards, but they are at the margin,” he said.

He acknowledged that a cancellation would have an impact on the biometrics service, but said it would still be required for visa applicants and almost certainly for fingerprints within passports, as this has been adopted by the Schengen Group of European countries.

Jacqui Smith said in a statement: “These contracts bring ID cards and more secure British passports a step closer, taking advantage of the best technology available to bring real benefits.

“ID cards and passports with fingerprint and facial biometrics will provide a safe and secure way of protecting personal details and proving identity. Our passport is already respected across the world as a gold standard for travel documents – these improvements will further help protect our borders.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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