The Department of Home Affairs has moved to replace the managed services arrangement behind its three major identity matching services, including the controversial national facial recognition database.
The super-agency began scouring the market for a new service provider on Thursday to ensure its identity matching services (IDMS) solution remains “highly reliable” for users across the economy.
IDMS is a bundle of systems operated by Home Affairs on behalf of the federal, state and territory governments to help prevent identity fraud and aid law enforcement with criminal investigations.
It comprises the document verification service (DVS) – used for basic identity document checks – and one to one and one to many facial verification through the face matching services (FMS) facility.
The IDMS also includes the national drivers licence facial recognition solution (NDLFRS), which together with an interoperability hub that connects matching requests with FMS is commonly referred to as ‘the Capability’.
NDLFRS was created to store driver’s licence information from each state and territory road agency in order to make it easier for policing agencies to share and access data in real-time.
All government leaders agreed to establish the database in October 2017, though it still remains offline more than four years later, with laws paving the way for the biometrics matching scheme stalled in parliament.
Tender documents published on Thursday reveal the new managed services provider will transition the NDLFRS from the incumbent provider and take over all management, operations and maintenance.
As part of this, the provider will shift the NDLFRS onto its platform, which Home Affairs said “must be able to host a solution up to protected level”.
The provider is also expected to “build and deploy” the FMS and DVS hubs as part of the new agreement, potentially consolidating the two into a single hub in the future.
FMS includes the facial matching service (FMS), which provides one-to-one face verification service (FVS) checks, and the one to many face identification service (FIS) checks used only by police.
Home Affairs expects the new contract will lead to cost savings, particularly by reducing the infrastructure footprint associated with the FMS and DVS hubs, over the next three years.