Firms await verdict on £2 billion ID cards project

no2id.jpgThe Independent | The technology industry will next week learn who the Government has awarded contracts to supply the £2bn biometric identity card programme, the last and among the most secretive of the recent crop of major public-sector IT schemes.

The framework deals under the hammer do not guarantee a role in the ID programme, but only those companies that win a place on the list will be eligible to compete for the lucrative work.

According to insiders, best and final offers have been submitted by the shortlist of Fujitsu, IBM, Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), Thales and EDS. A decision is expected next Monday.

The programme has been politically and technologically controversial from the start, and the procurement process has not been smooth either. Of the eight companies shortlisted last October, three — Accenture, BAE Systems and Steria — have dropped out. Should the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) team stick to the original plan for a group of five major suppliers, it is in danger of undermining the credibility of the programme by letting through all the companies still in the race.

Insiders tip CSC as the most likely loser. The company took more than £2bn-worth of NHS IT contracts from Accenture in 2006, giving it responsibility for three out of the five geographical regions of the world’s largest healthcare technology programme. According to sources, CSC’s first main subcontractor, Siemens, dropped out six months ago, and Unisys, which took over from Siemens, stepped down last month.