Sunday, July 08, 2007

Border Control Software Upgrade

Today, 7-July-2007, the Prime Minister, John Howard, and Attorney-General, Phillip Ruddock held a press conference in Sydney. They announced
"a major upgrade in Australia's border control system (which) began at the end of last year. ... It involves the introduction of more state of the art software which will enable a massively more comprehensive and effective examination of the antecedents of people who seek visa entry into this country."
The new system has "advanced identity management". The system can check the identity and previous travel of future visa applicants, and visa-holders already in Australia.

Neither Mr Howard nor Mr Ruddock discussed the software upgrade, but it could relate to the contract the Federal Government signed with Unisys in 2006 as part of a $50 million program.

In the press conference, Mr Howard admitted the announcement had been "accelerated" because of recent terrorist events in Britain.

A comment by the Attorney-General gives scope the the view that the software is not yet operational. He spoke of budget estimates, but not spending ...
"... one of the reasons this has been brought forward is because if you go through the process of looking at the level of detail you need to be able to make announcements about the precise cost, that means you've started to look at acquisition, and you've made estimates in relation to that."
Could this be a new re-announcement of the $50 million contract between the (then) Dept of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (now Dept of Immigration and Citizenship) and Unisys that was reported in July 2006? That contract was for software delivery over 4 years. It is one thing to shorten a project's time-frame, but reducing it by 3 years of a 4 year contract seems just little adventurous.

Perhaps this is just a re-announcement of matters from 12 months ago, to be used for largely political purposes.