The federal government has slowed down plans to introduce an authorization capacity platform to process passenger declarations and straightforward visa processing in light of the border reopening delay.
Home Affairs boss Mike Pezzullo questioned the platform would be ready by the end of the year, as predicted in Senate estimates last night, with a final service provider still to be selected.
When the platform launched in October 2020, Home Affairs expected to start co-design with the successful vendor by April and have the core platform in place by July. .
The first use cases, including the digitization of the paper-based incoming passenger card for international travelers – already attempted in 2017 – and a simple visa product, were then expected by October.
But Pezzullo said Tuesday to estimates that no contracts have yet been awarded and that the tender was still “under evaluation”, leaving the door open for future changes.
The American software giants IBM, Pega and Oracle have already would have has been shortlisted for the market, although only IBM is looking to design and build the licensing platform itself.
Pezzullo put much of the delay, which is in line with the new “assumption[s] on the opening of the border ”in mid-2022, until the need to integrate health data into the immigration process.
“The government has[…]asked to speed up the work so that we take more care to ensure that we build the platform’s capacity to ensure that health data can be ingested, ”he said.
“The health data regarding foreign citizens in particular will be quite difficult.”
Pezzullo said that to date the integration of health data into travel systems has been limited both for single jurisdiction countries and for collectives like the European Union.
“We’re grappling with the puzzle of… how do you make sure you have a robust digital signature of a person’s health before they get on the plane,” he said. .
Pezzullo said this challenge, which he described as “complex and technically difficult”, could “take the best part of 6 to 12 months”.
Under Secretary for Immigration and Settlement Services Andrew Kefford also said the $ 74.9 million earmarked for development would largely be spent during the procurement process.
“It was for procurement, as well as for a number of preparatory activities for the implementation of the system,” he said.
“This will also cover the staffing of the task force, as well as the usual legal and probity advice and other advice needed for a purchase of this magnitude.”
Kefford added that the whole project consisted of a “design element, building the base capacity and then configuring that base capacity for the … two use cases.”
The Home Office spent $ 92 million on its first unsuccessful attempt to overhaul the visa system through the outsourced global digital platform, which it scrapped before jumping into clearance capacity.