The federal government has awarded oversight of its new visa reform initiative to IT services provider Leidos Australia.
The local arm of the Virginia-based company has been appointed to the "Flexible Partner Engagement Arrangement", where it will be delivering the "provision of ICT professional services to assist in specific work packages over multiple releases".
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection -- now the Department of Home Affairs -- went to tender in September, seeking a provider to design, implement, and operate a new visa business for Australia.
It was revealed at the time the new visa business, labelled a matter of national security, was to be outsourced to another party that will be charged with processing visa applications.
"We are delighted to be appointed to the Flexible Partner Engagement Arrangement," Leidos Australia chief executive Christine Zeitz said. "This represents an excellent opportunity for us to assist in innovative and cost effective solutions that enable the Department of Home Affairs to achieve their mission."
According to Leidos, the department was seeking service providers with the capability and the capacity to provide "multi-skilled, security cleared, and scalable teams to deliver application development and support services".
As described in the original request for expression of interest (REOI), Bundle 1 of the visa program includes a major IT component, with the appointed vendor required to offer up a Global Digital Platform (GDP) that is a "world-class digital platform".
The GDP and supporting systems are expected to "drive the end-to-end processing and workflow of the visa and citizenship business", which includes lodgement, assessment, and rule-based decision-making on visa applications.
8.78 million visas were applied for during the 2016-17 12-month period, and the government expects this number to reach 13 million by 2026-27.
Currently, only 20 percent of the country's visa service is outsourced.
Under the new visa system, the government expects to still be responsible for performing sovereign functions, including policy, visa decision-making, and security checks.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) kicked off a campaign in March against the visa privatisation plan, concerned that the work functions to be privatised leave minimal work for Home Affairs staff.
"Based on previous ICT upgrades and outsourcing projects it is unlikely to lead to savings and more likely to lead to reduced services and data security risks," the CPSU said at the time. "The planned privatisation poses a threat to national security, privacy, and your jobs."
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