The Home Office has awarded a two-year, £3.8 million contract to Thales for the IT infrastructure that supports Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) cards.
The ‘public key infrastructure shared service’ (PKISS) contract will see Thales provide software application development and services support such as service desk, incident management, change management and a continual service improvement programme, the firm said.
The PKISS programme is critical to the production of BRP cards by the Home Office as it is used to provide the encryption of the biometric and biographic data received from the Home Office to create the cards.
BRP cards are required for all non-EU foreign nationals in order to prove that they have permission to stay, work or study in the UK over a specific period of more than six months. They form the basis of the owner’s identification, immigration status and entitlements while they are in the UK.
In February 2012 the categories of foreign nationals required to have a BRP were expanded as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration, doubling the number of permits issued to 400,000.
The contract was awarded via the Public Services Network (PSN) Framework, which allows the public sector to buy joined-up network infrastructure services.
Thales has been providing the PKISS service to the Home Office since 2008, according to secure communications and information systems VP Phil Naybour.
He said: “This contract award clearly demonstrates the customer’s confidence in our solution and service support packages.”
Last month the National Audit Office found that the Home Office had wasted £347 million on a system intended to support applications for visas and immigration.
It was instead cancelled in August 2013 ‘having achieved much less than planned’, the NAO said.
The UK Border Agency (UKBA), which was originally responsible for ICW, was scrapped in 2012 and replaced with three new Home Office directorates: Immigration Enforcement, UK Visas & Immigration, and Border Force.
An important part of the rationale for the reform was inadequate IT systems, according to home secretary Theresa May.