The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s administration of the Biometric Identification Services project

Biometrics Electronic records Crime prevention Records management Public sector Australia

On 1 July 2016, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) was created through the merger of the CrimTrac agency (CrimTrac), the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC). Prior to the merger, CrimTrac had commenced planning and initial administration of the Biometric Identification Services project (the BIS project or BIS).

BIS was a $52 million project with two key goals:

  • replacement of the existing National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS); and
  • addition of a facial recognition capability to enhance law enforcement’s biometric capabilities.

A Biometric Identification Solution Contract was signed on 20 April 2016 between NEC Australia (NEC) and CrimTrac, just prior to ACIC’s creation.

The BIS project encountered difficulties at an early stage. Despite intervention by the executive of ACIC and ultimately unsuccessful negotiations between ACIC and NEC, the ACIC CEO announced on 15 June 2018 that the project had been terminated.

When it became apparent that BIS would not be completed prior to the expiry in May 2017 of ACIC’s contract with Morpho, the company that operated NAFIS, ACIC extended its contract with Morpho (for a substantially higher price). The NAFIS contract is now due to expire in May 2020. ACIC has yet to decide the future of NAFIS.

The objective of this audit was to assess the effectiveness of ACIC’s administration of the BIS project.

The audit criteria were:

  • Was the procurement process for the BIS project conducted in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules?; and
  • Has ACIC effectively managed the BIS project to achieve agreed outcomes?
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Auditor-General Report No.24 2018–19