Home Affairs moves fast on platform build for passenger declarations, visas

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Home Affairs moves fast on platform build for passenger declarations, visas

Opens bids for permissions capability.

The Department of Home Affairs has opened bids for the reusable permissions capability platform that will handle digital passenger declarations and simple visa processing from late 2021.

Late on Friday, the department approached the market for the permission-based services platform, calling on prospective partners to develop what is expected to eventually become a whole-of-government capability.

It comes less than a week after the government revealed plans for the “publicly funded and operated” platform, which effectively replaces its controversial billion-dollar plan to outsource Australia’s visa processing platform.

The government will use the platform to digitise the paper-based incoming passenger card for international travellers and develop a “simple digital visa product” in the first instance, with both initial use cases expected by October 2021.

One of the reasons it is moving fast to stand up the capability is the need to accelerate the processing of incoming passenger information to support contact tracing efforts when international borders eventually reopen.

Tender documents reveal the successful “single service provider” will be expected to deliver the base platform in just four months, with the department pushing for a late June 2021 go live.

An initial work order, covering the discovery stage of the permissions capability and first two use cases, will be used by the department to co-design the platform between March and April 2021.

The government has provided the department with $74.9 million this financial year to commence work on the development of the permissions capability, though it is still waiting on a capital allocation.

Following the co-design, the department expects the base platform will be developed between April and June 2021 under a second work order.

Depending on the outcome of discovery, the department may offer the provider a discount for the remaining three work orders.

The second work order will cover the “actual development and support of the permissions capability”, will consist of numerous components covering user experience, core permissions processing capabilities and supporting capabilities.

User experience components include a virtual assistant, scheduling tool, web forms, and biometric capture, while processing and supporting capabilities include customer relationship management, workflow and robotic process automation and anti-plagiarism.

Any automated decision making is expected to be “developed in consultation with the Commonwealth Ombudsman”.

Only “positive/approval” decisions are expected to be automated, with “adverse/refusal” decisions to require consideration by the agency.

The third work order will cover the digital passenger declaration, which is “intended to deliver an integrated and streamlined application experience that facilitates international travel, safeguard[ing] against community exposure to Covid-19 from international travellers”.

The declaration, which is expected to be delivered before the end of September 2021, will consist of several foundational base capabilities across “risk profiling”, automation and “anchoring identity through collection and use of biometrics”.

The fourth work order will cover the “simple visa type”, which will include “an easy to use digital application” that provides non-citizens with an “adaptable question sets that respond to risk settings”.

The simple visa type, which will be delivered before the end of December 2021, will “allow the permissions capability to be tested while other broader and more complex use cases (including additional visas) can be considered”.

Submissions to the request for tender will close on December 18, with the department expected to enter into a contract of up to nine years with the successful tenderer by March 2021.

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