IBM, CSC Snag British Biometric Passport Contracts

In a 10-year, $971 million deal, IBM and Computer Sciences Corp. win contracts to upgrade and run the U.K.'s passport and ID card biometric database system. The facial and fingerprint biometric database is the first step in the U.K.'s plan to launch large-scale deployment of the new passports and ID cards by 2011.

The British Identity and Passport Service has selected Computer Sciences Corp. and IBM to build and run core elements of the country's National Identity Service that aims to ramp up a large-scale deployment of U.K. passports and biometric ID cards.
CSC won the lion's share of the 10-year, $971 million IT services deal with a $570 million contract to upgrade the IPS application and enrollment system. IBM was awarded a $390 million contract to deliver a facial and fingerprint biometrics database through the U.K.'s National Biometric Identity Service.
IPS is replacing and upgrading its contracts for processing passport applications, which are due to expire in 2009 and 2010. Through the new contracts, Britain plans a new secure database for storing the facial and fingerprint images.
"These contracts bring ID cards and more secure British passports a step closer, taking advantage of the best technology available to bring real benefits," Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said in a statement. "ID cards and passports with fingerprint and facial biometrics will provide a safe and secure way of protecting personal details and proving identity. These improvements will further help protect our borders."

Under the terms of the CSC contract, CSC will assume responsibility for several existing legacy IT service contracts supporting the IPS with new capabilities to process applications for passports and ID cards. The upgrades include allowing people to apply for passports and ID cards online. CSC will also provide customer support for updating personal data and provide IPS with new IT and telephony systems.

"The British passport is already one of the most secure in the world, and it is vital we maintain that strength by moving with the rest of the international community," James Hall, chief executive of IPS, said in a statement.

IBM's part of the deal is to build and run the database that will store the facial images and fingerprints that are needed to keep the passport in line with international standards, as well as to support the delivery of the ID card.

After an initial selection process in May 2008, five potential suppliers were selected to join the IPS framework agreement and bid for contracts. Over the last nine months, more than 250 face-to-face meetings with the suppliers allowed IPS to assess each supplier before awarding the contracts.

The next generation of passports contains chips with facial images and fingerprints. The U.K. plans to issue the new passports in 2011, when U.K. residents will also have the choice of applying for an ID card as well.

"IBM and CSC have shown they are superbly placed to deliver these large projects, and we are delighted they are working with us," Hall said.