The government has taken another step towards tying up which companies will be in charge of the UK ID cards scheme.
The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) has further whittled down the companies shortlisted to deliver parts of the ID card system and passport-application scheme.
IBM and Thales are through to the next round of discussions for a £500m contract to deliver the National Biometric Identity Service programme to replace the existing passport-photo database with a new system able to store photos and fingerprints.
CSC, Fujitsu and IBM have been chosen to take part in further talks for the £500m contract to deliver the application and enrolment programme, which will replace the current passport-application system.
The IPS said that procurement for the design and production of ID cards has also begun and that suppliers should be shortlisted in the coming months.
Earlier this year it was announced that an early version of the UK ID card biometric database will be delivered by Thales for £18m. It will produce cards for airport workers, who will have to start using the cards from 2009.
Suppliers 3M, SP&SL, De La Rue, Gemalto and Thales have also been chosen to discuss replacing existing arrangements for the design and production of passports for when the current supplier arrangements expire, with contracts expected to be awarded in 2009.
Foreign nationals coming to the UK will be issued with ID cards from 25 November under a separate system developed by the UK Border Agency, and the government recently announced an initial run of 50,000 ID cards will be produced.