The ‘Blueprint for Reform 2013-18’ (the Reform Project) at the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) has generated the biggest new ICT initiative in the 2014-15 Federal Budget.
Almost immediately after the funding was announced in the Budget, ACBPS has told the market that it will be releasing a Request for Tender (RFT) early next financial year for ‘systems integration services and technology' to support Traveller Clearance Processing. It will be the biggest new systems integration project in Canberra since the Department of Health’s ‘Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record’, and the Department of Human Services’ ‘Child Support System’.
The Border Clearance System RFT will coincide with significant changes at ACBPS in 2014-15, including its amalgamation with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service into the Australian Border Force, with the new entity to come into existence 1 July 2015.
The Government stated in its Budget papers that it will provide $480.5 million over four years ($711.9 million over six years, including $438.7 million in capital funding) to strengthen Australia's border protection services. It is not possible from this description to identify how much of this funding is directly related to the ‘Blueprint for Reform 2013-18’ initiative and how much might be associated with the Machinery of Government changes to establish the Australian Border Force agency.
However, in its Budget IT tool, Intermedium estimates that 100% of the capital funding and 80% of the expense funding will be related to ICT. In addition, the Department of Finance was allocated $400,000 over four years, which Intermedium assumes is for gateway review activity.
On the basis of these estimates, Intermedium believes that ACBPS has in the vicinity of $24 million in ICT operational expenditure budget funding for 2014-15, with the remainder of the funding spread over the forward estimates. It should be noted that not all of this funding will necessarily be spent with ICT suppliers – a portion of it will be on internal operational expenditure associated with the initiatives. Budget IT has the breakdown for these years.
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, stated at the Biometrics Institute Asia Pacific Conference in May that this was an “important time for the development of biometrics facilitated border management systems in Australia.”
According to the notice, “ACBPS is seeking a solution that will support Traveller Clearance Processing but scale to the broader clearance requirements and beyond, based on enterprise ready capabilities.”
The key capabilities to be sought in the upcoming RFT are:
- Planning and Scheduling;
- Integrated Process Automation and Case Management;
- Identity Resolution and Master Data Management; and
- Console for remote monitoring and controlling of biometric eGates.
ACBPS is scheduled to trial eGate technology at Brisbane International Airport in July. “Subject to the trial being successful, ACBPS will pursue full implementation of the preferred technology and process at all eight Australian international airports”, Senator Michaelia Cash, the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, announced in May 2014.