Eight companies are in the running to be key suppliers for the Identity and Passport Service's National Identity Scheme.
The companies named as potential suppliers for the scheme — which includes the national ID cards programme — are Accenture, BAE Systems, CSC, EDS, Fujitsu, IBM, Steria and Thales.
The original procurement notice was posted on the European OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) website in August and a bidders conference was held in September where interested parties could find out more about the procurement process.
The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) received 11 pre-qualification questionnaire responses following the bidders conference, with eight companies now being invited to take part in a competitive dialogue with the IPS over the next few months, before final tenders are made.
Bill Crothers, commercial director of the IPS, said the service now has a solid core of eight "prime bidders" and is pleased with the level of interest shown.
Crothers added the IPS will be in constant contact with the eight bidders to outline detailed plans and listen to supplier views before making a decision.
Suppliers will be required to design, build, deploy and service various projects — including an overhaul of the Immigration and Asylum Fingerprint System — as well as offer business process and IT outsourcing.
The IPS predicts total spending on these procurement contracts will be around £2bn — a significant chunk of the project's £5.5bn total budget.
The IPS aims to have five prime suppliers in place by May 2008.