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Australia invites a select few to bid for national digital ID contract

Australia invites a select few to bid for national digital ID contract

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the nation’s digital identity competition regulator, is issuing  a limited tender to build the platform that will house its national digital ID system. It has invited just 5 to 10 vendors to submit a request for quote on the platform, and refuses to share if any local suppliers are among them or how much the project will cost, according to InnovationAus.

The RFQ issued last week on the BuyICT platform sought to find an “experienced provider” to develop the digital ID system. It has only invited 5 to 10 companies to submit a request to bid on the platform. The listing says it is seeking a one-year contract that would start in January and can be extended for one 6 month term.

Australian companies outside the chosen few are frustrated at being deprived of the opportunity to bid on what will be an essential part of the plan for the Australian Government’s Digital ID System (AGDIS). Over the past five years of development, the digital ID project has already cost over $600 million.

A spokesperson for the ACCC says that it cannot disclose who was approached until the tender closes on December 13th. It will close sooner if all invited applicants respond before the deadline.

Courtenay Hollis, co-founder of Australian IT firm Imminently, says the limited tender is “inappropriate” in the development of a platform that will govern a system managing Australians’ biometric data.

He says that inviting a select few suppliers who are likely to be large multinational companies with dedicated national sales teams limits what can be done through local suppliers. “It’s not creating a genuine opportunity to understand local innovations and achieve value for money assessments,” he tells InnovationAus.com.

The Digital Marketplace, which is now part of the BuyICT platform, began as a way to connect smaller suppliers with more opportunities. Increasingly, however, it is used to “select source” preferred companies. “It has gotten out of control to the point that I believe it breaches the Government’s anti-competitive laws,” says Hollis.

Sometime next year, it will be put into law that the ACCC is the formal regulator of AGDIS, according to the report. It will oversee the digital ID accreditation scheme and operation of the system, and manage accreditation for approved digital ID providers. Last month, the organization began recruiting directors to manage the accreditation team.

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One Reply to “Australia invites a select few to bid for national digital ID contract”

  1. So the ACCC. who so far has had nothing to do with digital IDs, is now the regulator for Australia’s Digital ID infrastructure? Who’s genius idea was that?
    They are just recruiting personnel now, so as an organisation they have no track record with any of this technology. This is a great recipe for another disaster like the $80 million dollar National Face Recognition and AFIS database that turned into a law suit between the Aust Govt and one of the Big 3 Biometric vendors.

    One of the many findings by the PwC report into that disaster was the fact that project managers on both sides (vendor and supplier) changed repeatedly during the build process and major project requirements were left out because there was no local knowledge involved. Is that what we will get again as the large vendors with Headquarters overseas bring in temporary overseas staff for the project?

    I agree completely with Courtney Hollis. The DigitalMarketplace fails to support both local Australian companies and local expertise.

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