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Home Office picks supplier for £300m biometrics project

The department has chosen US company Leidos to provide critical elements of the national system under a £300m contract with a 10-year timespan

The Home Office has chosen a technology vendor to support the delivery of its biometrics programme. US supplier Leidos has been selected to transition, operate and transform critical elements of the UK's national biometrics systems supporting law enforcement, immigration services and border security.

Work with the technology firm under the £300m, 10-year contract will be carried out as part of the Home Office biometrics (HOB) programme. The initiative seeks to digitally transform the department's biometric capability, which provide fingerprints, DNA and facial matching, and until now has been delivered through legacy systems IDENT1 for UK police forces and law enforcement, and Immigration and Asylum biometrics system (IABS).

Through its UK operation, Leidos will focus on the central and bureau elements of IDENT1 and IABS to modernise and disaggregate the systems. The project does not contemplate any changes to who can access the systems, which remains determined by the Home Office.

The vendor will also be tasked with a a full infrastructure transformation, which will see the convergence of both systems to a public cloud platform.

The announcement follows the end of contracts for support of the two legacy platforms, which ended in March and April 2019. Unable to achieve the HOB future goals and presenting “clear duplication” of functions, the department sought to consolidate both applications into a single supplier contract.

When the tendering process for the contract was launched in April 2019, David Davis MP questioned the former Cabinet Office minister David Lidington about what safeguards were in place to protect the security and privacy of citizen data held by the system and to ensure that the data wouldn’t be “held by foreign companies subject to foreign government laws giving foreign government access to British citizens’ private data”.

In response to the question, the minister said any tenders were subject to “the normal rules on open public procurement”, but that Sajid Javid, then home secretary, would give “the highest priority to ensuring the security of that sensitive personal data”.

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