CSC to take over up to 350 IT passports staff

Services supplier CSC is expected to take over about 350 IT staff, and will help build new passport and ID Card systems, after winning a 10-year £385m contract...

Services supplier CSC is expected to take over about 350 IT staff, and will help build new passport and ID Card systems, after winning a 10-year £385m contract this week.

CSC beat Fujitsu which had been shortlisted for the contract.

It means that CSC will later this month begin to take over the running of the Oracle-based Passport Application Support System from Siemens which has been running the technology since 1999.

Under TUPE regulations about 350 staff, most of them working for Siemens, are expected to transfer to CSC. Some were civil servants when they transferred to Siemens in 1999. As part of its deal CSC will take over the running of the passport service's desktop systems from Atos.

Under the new contract CSC will replace the Passport Application Support System which officials say is at risk of becoming increasingly unstable. It is based on technology which is more than 10 years old.

IT-related disasters followed the introduction of new passport systems in 1989 and again in 1999. But James Hall, Chief Executive of the Identity and Passport Service, says that the mistakes have been learned. He told Computer Weekly that this time the introduction of new systems would be phased in between now and 2012.

He said: "I have read several times the 1999 Public Accounts Committee report on what went wrong. Those are a set of mistakes we'd prefer to avoid making."

Passport officials had tried to roll out new and more secure - but slower - technology to regional passport offices without learning from mistakes. The result was a queue of 565,000 applications and some applicants had to cancel holidays.

Bill Crothers, CIO at the Identity and Passport Service, said that CSC will begin to shadow the running of passport systems later this month - although Siemens will continue to have responsibility for the system until its contract expires on 5 October 2009. This should ensure a smooth transition from one supplier to another, he said.

CSC will also build a more advanced system to allow people to apply for passports online after the Government scrapped the failed Electronic Passport Application System, known as EPA2, in 2006.

The Identity and Passport Service has awarded a separate contract to IBM for £265 over 10 years to supply the National Biometric Information Service, which will store fingerprints and pictures of faces for ID Cards. Thales had been shortlisted.

Under its new contract IBM will take over the Immigration Automated Fingerprinting System [IAFS] from French company Sagem which has been running the system for the UK Border Agency. IBM is expected to replace IAFS by the end of 2011.

Crothers said that the Identity and Passport Service will now try to mesh the work of IBM and CSC.


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