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Sunday, 17 June 2018 15:15

ACIC ends biometric project being developed by NEC Australia Featured

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The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission has discontinued its Biometric Identification Services project, being developed by NEC Australia, because of implementation delays.

In a statement, the ACIC said the contract, with NEC Australia, had been stopped on 15 June. It had been suspended on 4 June to conduct commercial negotiations.

NEC Australia is likely to bid to develop a national facial recognition database that is likely to cost Australia at least hundreds of millions of dollars, but could go into the billions.

The current status of this project is unknown. Last year, Paul Howie, NEC Australia's general manager of Smart Systems, said the main expense would be on cameras and hardware. There would also be costs involved for software and algorithms that do the actual recognition.

The ACIC project is the second under NEC Australia's stewardship that has been cancelled.

In May, an apprenticeship IT platform, which cost $20 million, was cancelled by the Department of Education. Once again, the reasons given were delays and budget blowouts.

The system — the Australian Apprenticeships Management System — was to have been part of the Federal Government’s plan to improve support for employers and apprentices as well as streamline payments that are being made through the legacy Training and Youth Internet Management System

It was announced in October 2015 and was expected to be commissioned in July 2016 to support the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network.

The ACIC said the Australian National Audit Office was conducting an audit into the biometric project as the ACIC had requested in February 2018.

The project was awarded to NEC in April 2016. According to InnovationAus.com, delays soon began to haunt the project.

A report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 2017 said that a “systemic pattern of delay” was evident and spending had gone out of hand by more than $40 million by November 2017.

The ACIC statement said: "The ACIC is committed to delivering projects that enhance capability for our law enforcement partners.

"As part of this approach we regularly review the scope, expected benefits and ongoing feasibility of our projects.

"The ACIC is committed to providing national criminal information and intelligence services, including fingerprint data, to more than 70,000 police officers and other accredited users on a daily basis, to keep them and the Australian community safe."


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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