10 October 2007 | Antony Barton
The introduction of electronic passports was an "excellent example" of project management and procurement by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), says the chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts.
Edward Leigh, who today unveiled the committee's report on the introduction of the so-called ePassports, added the introduction from 2009 of second-generation ePassports, which will digitally hold fingerprints as well as photographs, will present a more demanding implementation challenge.
The UK moved from digital passports to ePassports, containing chips, in 2006 to comply with international requirements to strengthen border controls.
The report said the roll out of these passports "offers an example of successful project management and procurement to others contemplating introducing a new service or improving an existing one".
It adds the procurement was on time, on budget and met quality standards. Time constraints meant the IPS used an exemption from procurement rules to amend an existing contract for passport production rather than holding a competition.
For the second generation of ePassports, it has formed a single project board with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to conduct a competitive procurement process. The report says the IPS will ensure the procurement process will be flexible enough to allow for developments over the next decade.