​Unisys extends multimillion-dollar Australian Border Protection contract

Under the contract extension, Unisys will continue to provide managed service desk and end-user computing services to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection through to June 2021.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

US-based IT services provider Unisys has signed a contract extension with the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), worth a potential value of up to AU$77.7 million.

Under the new three-year contract, Unisys will continue to provide managed service desk and end-user computing services to DIBP through to June 2021. The contract includes "24x7, first level service desk support" for all immigration systems and infrastructure support for DIBP's midrange equipment, Unisys explained.

"International airlines, freight companies, and travel agents all need to interact with DIPB's immigration systems ... and effective communication between these systems is critical to allow the Australian government to check and manage who and what is coming into Australia in a timely manner, while preventing unnecessary delays to legitimate people or cargo entering the country," Unisys Asia Pacific vice president of Public Sector Lysandra Schmutter said in a statement on Wednesday.

According to Unisys, Australia is a global leader in the use of technology to secure a country's borders. DIBP recently announced a AU$22.5 million, three-year contract with Portugal-based Vision-Box that would initially see 105 new smartgates rolled out at Australian airports to enable passengers to be processed using facial recognition.

The department similarly published a request for tender for the provision of automated processing at Australian ports. This followed a request for an Automated Border Control solution that would eliminate the need for physical tickets and have the ability to process travellers using contactless technology.

"Border security technology is evolving rapidly and that technology must be maintained at a high level of reliability to ensure availability around the clock to protect the border while facilitating international trade," Unisys global head of Public Sector business Mark Forman added.

Unisys has been working with DIBP since 2007, extending its initial contract back in 2013 to the tune of AU$104.1 million.

The IT firm also recently announced a partnership with Data61 that will see the development of an advanced data analytics solution for the automated security risk assessment of travellers and cargo.

Unisys will fund the joint research project as it works on the development of an advanced data analytics solution capable of detecting potential border security risks posed by travellers, visa applicants, cargo, and parcels at air, land, and sea borders.

As part of the project, a proof-of-concept will be conducted at a "major Asian hub" with the intention of developing the technology into a product to be made available to governments to aid in securing their international borders.

The research involves assessing anonymised data sets from airlines using analytics and machine learning to identify patterns that indicate potential risks of both traveller intent and cargo contents.

At the time, Unisys said the partnership builds on an existing large-scale border security analytics capability the company already has, and it is currently working with governments worldwide to secure country borders and facilitate the movement of people and goods, including the United States Customs and Border Protection in addition to DIBP.

The Australian Department of Defence also extended its IT support services contract with Unisys in 2016 for another two years to October 2018, valued at approximately AU$74 million.

Under the contract, Unisys will provide IT support for 100,000 end users at approximately 450 Defence locations across the country. The contract will also include providing support for joint service and international military exercises such as Talisman Sabre, as well as emergency disaster responses including floods and bushfires.

Unisys won its first regional IT services agreement with Defence back in 2008 for an initial five years.

For the 2016 financial year, the local arm of Unisys reported an after-tax loss of AU$3.3 million, down from the AU$709,000 after-tax profit recorded a year prior.

Revenue for the 12-month period was AU$237.7 million, up from the AU$201.5 million in annual revenue reported for 2015.

As a result of the loss, Unisys Australia was handed a AU$1.3 million income tax benefit from the Australian Taxation Office.

Globally, for the full year, Unisys reported a $47.7 million net loss, on revenue of $2.8 billion. Despite the loss, the company somewhat recovered from its loss of $109.9 million a year prior.


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