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August 13, 2014

Home Office awards £3.8m biometric card contract to Thales

The contract will support production of Biometric Residency Permits for non-EU foreign nationals.

By Joe Curtis

The Home Office has awarded a £3.8m contract to Thales to provide the IT infrastructure underpinning its non-EU foreign residency permits.

The two-year contract will see the IT security firm provide and manage a Public Key Infrastructure Shared Service (PKISS) to support the Home Office’s production of Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) cards.

All non-EU foreign nationals receive the card as a form of identification for any stay in the UK of more than six months.

The card carries name, date and place of birth details and a fingerprint and a facial image, as well as a record of their immigration status and any entitlements they are allowed.

The Home Office awarded the contract through the PSN Services Framework, after the end of a four-year deal with Thales to provide PKISS since 2008, extended to July 2014.

The PKISS system encrypts the biometric and biographic data sent from the department to create the cards.

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Phil Naybour, VP of secure communications and information systems at Thales UK, said: "Winning this contract is a great result for Thales. This contract award clearly demonstrates the customer’s confidence in our solution and service support packages. This contract also shows Thales as a leading provider of PSN services where security is a critical element."

However, a new solution to replace PKISS is currently being developed by the Shared Signing Service Project that will combine the Passport Office’s passport signing system with the Home Office’s BRP signing system.

The combined system is due to be introduced in the spring of 2015.

The news comes after the Home Office wrote off £347m on a failed immigration system last August.

The National Audit Office revealed the Immigration Case Work system was closed after vastly underachieving on targets. A new platform called Immigration Platform Technologies will replace it, expected to cost £209m over four years by 2017.

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