Australian government cancels NEC biometrics services contract

Australia’s Federal Government has terminated a contract for Biometric Identification Services (BIS) with NEC Australia due to project delays, ARN reports.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) had suspended the agreement on June 4 until June 15, while further contract negotiations were conducted. The contract, which was awarded by CrimTrac in mid-2016 before it became ACIC, could not be saved, and has been terminated more than four years ahead of its scheduled end in November 2022.

An NEC spokesperson said the company was “extremely disappointed,” and that the move was made based on a “termination for convenience” clause in the contract, rather than any allegation of breached contractual obligations, according to ARN.

The contract to provide facial recognition and rapid identification with mobile devices for law enforcement and border security was reported to be worth AUD $52 million (US$38.8 million), though tender documents indicate a value of up to $46.8 million ($34.9 million).

“The ACIC is committed to delivering projects that enhance capability for our law enforcement partners,” a Commission spokesperson said. “As part of this approach we regularly review the scope, expected benefits and ongoing feasibility of our projects.”

“NEC remains committed and ready to deliver the BIS solution, regarded as a world-class solution supporting law enforcement agencies in preventing, detecting and reducing crime in our communities,” the NEC spokesperson said.

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs is also working on a facial recognition solution, with algorithms which an official recently said would crack the top three for accuracy in NIST testing.

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