Australia to upgrade passport application IT systems

Online applications to augment centralised IT services

Australian travellers heading overseas may soon be able to apply for a passport online if the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) goes ahead with newly announced plans to upgrade some of the Australian Passport Office's (APO) IT systems. The APO presently produces 1.7 million passports per year and is projecting this number to grow to two million in the 2012/13 financial year and up to 3.5 million beyond that.

Additionally, the APO is under pressure to meet the Federal Government's IT efficiency requirements as espoused by the Gershon Review and as a result is considering centralising its IT systems in one location, namely its Canberra offices, while introducing other changes to the passport application processes.

"With centralisation, the APO would be able to take advantage of existing and emerging opportunities to streamline and automate business processes," DFAT said in request for expressions of interest (EOI) documents.

As such the department has announced it is looking for providers to suggest solutions to replace its existing distribute workflow system designed in 1998 called Delta.

The new solution is expected to include among other things: Online passport application functionality that facilitates follow up face-to-face interviews and allows for data to be evaluated against eligibility and risk criteria held in a rules engine; a single sign on for users to gain access to all applications and functions; a new and improved graphical user interface (GUI); improved case management and intelligence capabilities; and a service oriented architecture (SOA) that links the systems various components.

The DFAT EOI, which closes on February 26, follows the news in December that up to 400 new ePassport document readers will be rolled out across Australia's airports as part of an Australian Customs and Border Protection Service IT upgrade. The primary border protection agency will replace the existing document readers at all international airports to upgrade its Fraudulent Travel Document Detection System, which processes over 25 million passengers and 1 million aircrew yearly.

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