CSC likely to acquire about 350 passports IT staff

CSC has won a £385m 10-year contract to build new passport and ID systems, and take over about 350 IT staff who are working on various contracts at the Identity and Passport Service. Most of them will transfer to CSC from Siemens.  

I asked Bill Crothers, CIO at the Identity and Passport Service, whether CSC’s work on the NHS’s NPfIT programme had been looked at. He said that the IPS took up references in the public and private sectors for the four shortlisted suppliers CSC, IBM, Fujitsu and Thales. References were taken up with NHS Connecting for Health over the NPfIT.

Crothers said:”We are comfortable with their [CSC’s] capability and their capacity to staff up [the project] in an appropriate way.”

One of the challenges for CSC in operating its new contract with the Identity and Passport Service will be to replace the Passport Applications Support System which was installed by Siemens in 1999.

The last two replacement passport systems ended in disaster, in 1989 and again in 1999. The Siemens contract expires on 5 October 2009. 

James Hall, Chief Executive of the Identity and Passport Service told me that the mistakes of 1999 have been understood. The new passport systems – which will also support the introduction of ID Cards – will be phased in between now and 2012. Hall, who is senior responsible owner of the ID Cards scheme, said:

“I have read several times the 1999 PAC [Public Accounts Committee] report on what went wrong. They did seek a fairly Big Bang approach and introduced [new IT] in regional offices in a short period of time. Those are a set of mistakes we’d prefer to avoid making.”  

The National Audit Office, in its report on the disastrous introduction of passport systems in 1999 said: “Organisations should pay special attention to the interaction between the new system and those expected to use it …”  The NAO also said: “When service delivery is threatened, public bodies should have the capability to keep the public well informed.”

The Identity and Passport Service has also awarded a contract to IBM, for £265m.


Award of contracts by the Identity and Passport Service to CSC and IBM – Computer Weekly

National Audit Office – lessons from IT failures on specific projects  – including passport service