Plans for technology to support the Government’s Health and Social Services Access Card were unveiled last Wednesday by representatives from the Department of Human Services. The briefing at Darling Harbour in Sydney attracted a crowd of more than 300 from local and international companies.
The Department‟s overall approach to the tender had already been announced by the Minister for Human Services, Joe Hockey at his address to the National Press Club, so the real news at the briefing was the tender timetable.
Market testing will be undertaken in four parts, as follows:
- The tender for a “System Integrator” will be released on 5 January 2007 and close on 1 March 2007. It will cover management of hardware and software as well as overall integration and testing. The release of this tender will be the first exposure of any detailed specifications.
- A “Card Issuance and Management” tender will follow closely with release in mid-late January 2007. This will cover supply of the cards themselves as well as card management software. No indicative closing date was provided for this tender, but the Department expects that contractual arrangements for the first two tenders will be complete by mid 2007.
- The provision of a panel of “smartcard terminals” providers will follow, with no date announced yet. This panel is likely to include a variety of smartcard readers devices to cater for the diverse functions covered by the project‟s scope.
- The last tender, again with no release date set, will be an accreditation process for „Transaction Delivery Providers‟.
The Department‟s overall approach to break up the project into four major tenders is aimed at reducing complexity and project risk. However, this approach is likely to create some additional risk issues at the boundaries of the four solutions.
Overall timeframes for the project remain very tight, given Minister Hockey‟s expectation that a national rollout will begin in early in 2008.
The „owner controlled‟ area of the card was a focus of industry attention during the Q&A session. This area can be used for storing data or small computer applications at the discretion of the card owner. It will raise significant cost/capacity issues for the cards.
There was no mention of the Centrelink tender for a staff identification card at the briefing. As outlined in the 4 December edition of the Medium, Centrelink is requiring the use of its own internally developed security protocol, PLAID. The protocol meets stringent Defence Signals Directorate security guidelines, and is claimed to operate far more efficiently than other relevant protocols.