CSC sneaks into Immigration's tech revamp

A lack of available Siebel skills on the part of its prime contractor IBM has prompted the Immigration Department to hand AU$6.7 million of work to rival vendor CSC.
Written by Renai LeMay, Contributor

A lack of available Siebel skills on the part of its prime contractor IBM has prompted the Immigration Department to hand AU$6.7 million of work to rival vendor CSC.

CSC will now work on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship's (DIAC) Detention Services Portal until the end of July this year.

"The reason for using CSC and not IBM for this project was that CSC had the available capability for the project," a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews told ZDNet Australia via e-mail. "The key skills required for the delivery of the project (that is, Siebel software) are in extremely short supply."

Andrews' spokesperson pointed out there were a number of other major projects currently underway which required the currently rare Siebel skills -- most notably the Australian Taxation Office's AU$400 million-$450 million Change Program.

The Detention Services Portal is part of Immigration's Systems for People initiative --  an AU$496 million, four-year project kicked off in mid-2006 to address shortcomings with DIAC's record-keeping that led to the embarassing wrongful detention of Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez, among others.

A spokesperson for IBM said in its capacity as DIAC's strategic partner on the Systems for People project, the vendor discussed optimum resourcing solutions with the department as new projects arose.

"In this instance, CSC -- also a DIAC business partner -- was selected to provide the services required based on available resourcing. IBM has resources working with the Detention Services Portal team," they said. IBM said work on Systems for People was "progressing well on time and on budget".

"IBM continues to be the strategic partner for DIAC for Systems for People and is working with departmental staff, CSC and other providers to ensure successful integration of all business redesign, infrastructure and application development elements, including the Detention Services Portal, into the Systems for People program," the IBM spokesperson concluded.

CSC has previously had an extensive outsourcing arrangement with DIAC, however it lost large sections of that work in late January, when the department handed an AU$140 million desktop services contract to rival Unisys. CSC still provides mainframe and mid-range services to the department.

CSC declined to comment on the recent contracts.

What is Systems for People?
The Systems for People project consists of rebuilding and tieing together a number of the department's information systems. The work will see a series of portals built to provide staff access to centralised databases, with the first slated to go live in late April.

IBM was selected in mid-2006 to implement the bulk of the Systems for People project. In September, DIAC quoted the value of the relationship at AU$200 million over four years

Other vendors believed to be involved in Systems for People include UXC, Fujitsu, EDS, Oracle, Siebel and smaller suppliers Tibco, RuleBurst and Apis Computing. CSC is believed to have unsucessfully bid for the work.

The Minister's spokesperson said IBM was selected for the Systems for People deal through a process of evaluation of shortlisted providers from a panel contract which DIAC already had in place.

"CSC was selected from this same panel to deliver one of the projects under Systems for People," they added.

The department's secretary Andrew Metcalfe told a Senate Estimates committee in early January that Systems for People was "on track", with some AU$188 million to be spent in this financial year. DIAC had at that time seen cost blowouts amounting to tens of millions of dollars relating to other areas of its IT function.

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