The Australian Customs Service (ACS) has issued long-awaited tenders for outsourcing of a range of information technology functions as an AU$550 million deal with Electronic Data Systems (EDS) draws to a close.
The ACS -- which acknowledged last year that the structure of the EDS deal meant the agency lost out on innovation and internal expertise -- released tenders late last week encompassing provision of data processing, application maintenance and support, voice infrastructure and Internet and a secure gateway.
The tender structure reaffirms the ACS's desire to pursue a multi-sourcing strategy rather than a Big Bang arrangement once the EDS deal expires in June 2007.
The ACS said it was seeking:
- A vendor to provide and manage mainframe, midrange and storage infrastructure and services for an initial term of five years. The deal could be extended for two three-year periods;
- A standing offer panel arrangement for the supply of application maintenance and support services. Two or more vendors would be nominated to the panel, with another two or more selected as reserve panellists. The arrangement, initially for three years, could be extended for two more periods of three years;
- A single provider to manage its telephony infrastructure and related services for a period expiring 7 December 2008 and;
- A supplier to handle the provision and management of certified perimeter gateway services for the Customs Connect Facility and services it provides to other government agencies, as well as Internet services. The proposed initial term would be three years, with options for renewal being two periods of two years.
The ACS said the maximum transition time to the new arrangements would, in most cases, be around six months.
The release of the tenders follows the disastrous cutover to a new imports clearance system late last year and follows the subsequent appointment of former Australian Taxation Office (ATO) boss Michael Carmody to the top ACS post.
It also comes as the ACS gears up for a range of new border protection projects, with the highest-profile being the SmartGate biometric border processing system for international passengers.
The client-server based system, which interfaces to the ACS passenger analysis, clearance and evaluation application -- is based on Windows servers running a packaged application supplied by Sagem.
SmartGate Series 1 would be introduced into the first Australian international airport in early 2007, while other airports would follow at a pace determined by uptake of the new ePassport.