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DFAT opens tendering for $101 million passport project

by David Shi •
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The Australian passport system is set for a $100.8 million modernisation and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has released a request for tenders from vendors interested in supplying a system to automate the issuance of Australian travel documents.

DFAT is looking to sign up a Prime System Integrator, charged with developing the ATDIS as an end-to-end solution.

The contractor will also be required to provide support and maintenance for all aspects of the passport issuance system for the lifetime of the contract

With the projected number of passport applications set to exceed 2 million by 2012 and the number of Australian Travel Documents to reach over 3.5 million per year, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is seeking a suitable candidate to develop a new Australian Travel Document Issuance System (ATDIS).

The Australian Passport Office (APO), the DFAT business unit responsible for the provision of Australian Travel Documents and passports, currently utilises several manual processes for the approval of relevant travel documents.

These processes include the submission of hard form applications, manual lodgement processes and interviews, all of which are time-consuming and inefficient for both the applicant and the APO.

A steady increase in passport applications, paired with a whole-of-government emphasis on business process efficiency, has lead up to the launch of this project.

The APO’s current workflow System (Delta) will also need to be consolidated into a centralised System where both hardware and Software can be better managed and more effectively utilised.

According to the tender documents, the current travel document issuance system will be replaced by:

  • a web-based model for the Australian Travel Document application and Interview processes
  • a personal interview to capturing facial image and signature data electronically
  • a passport issuance System which would cross reference applications against a detailed eligibility and risk criteria held within a rules engine

“The new IT system will streamline and automate several passport production processes, with online services, scanning, case management, fraud control, workflow and passport printing solutions," said DFAT Chief Information Officer Tuan Dao in a media release.

The creation of a new passport system was first announced in the 2010-11 Federal Budget, in which the government allocated $100.8 million in funding over six years for the project. The new passport system will underpin DFAT’s Passport Redevelopment Program (PRP).

The PRP was created by DFAT in response to the changing environment and expectations which the APO are required to meet. The PRP’s objective is to deliver a contemporary ICT business solution to provide a more secure, efficient and responsive Australian Travel Document service.

The APO has previously been involved in other major ICT developments. In 2005, the APO began issuing ePassports with the intention of facilitating automated processing for travellers. Using biometric and contactless smart card technology, Australia was among the first nations to introduce ePassports globally.

"We are also taking this opportunity to integrate DFAT's passport IT systems into DFAT's broader IT environment," said Mr Dao.

The RFT also encouraged tenderers to submit and/or develop open source software to be considered along with existing proprietary software.

An optional industry briefing will be held by DFAT on 7 October 2011. All applications for the RFT are due by 10 January 2012.


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