The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has made a move to spend the $100.8 million that it was allocated in the 2010 budget for revamping the system that issues passports, releasing a request for tender for an integrator to implement a new system.
The passport revamp is called the Passport Redevelopment Program, and is intended to aid the Passport Office in coping with the increasing number of passports being issued each year by making the passport application process more online. DFAT said that it expects there to be more than two million passport applications by 2015 — which is when the current passport systems are expected to reach end of life. DFAT wants the new system to manage up to 3.5 million extra passports each year.
The Passport Office hopes to replace hard copy application forms, manual lodgement and interviews with a web-based application and interview process, aided by a personal interview to capture the applicant's image and signature electronically in a controlled environment.
Currently, applicants fill in hard copy forms, to be lodged manually. These forms are forwarded to interview outlets. Data is extracted using software, and then manually verified. The photo and signature are each scanned separately. The application then goes through facial recognition, risk assessment, eligibility, data checking, personalisation, chip writing, quality assurance and dispatch.
The electronically lodged applications would ideally be assessed against risk criteria in a rules engine, and the resulting evaluation would be put into a workflow for passport officers. The passport office would have access to more data for analytics, and the process would be more secure, according to tender documents.
"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," DFAT CIO Tuan Dao said in a statement.
The revamp would also be used as an opportunity to integrate the passport systems into the rest of DFAT's systems, he said.
DFAT is looking for a prime system integrator to develop a new issuance system, and provide other services and products to help the Passport Office issue and manage travel documents. Currently, the travel document information systems are provided with the help of:
- The Queensland government's CITEC (for mainframes)
- Alphawest (workflow system support)
- SHARP (RFID chip support)
- Verizon (PKI infrastructure support)
- Muehlbauer (printing)
- Aware (PKI Interface support)
- Cognitec (facial recognition software support)
- Fujitsu (website hosting)
- 3M (passport quality assurance).
The tender closes on 10 January next year. DFAT is holding a briefing in Canberra this Friday.