Smart ID cards by March?


The Department of Home Affairs says it hopes to sign a contract for a much-delayed smart card national identity (ID) management system that could cost up to R17 billion over 12 years before the end of this coming March.

Responding in writing to a question asked by Democratic Alliance member of the National Council of Provinces MJR de Villiers the DHA says it this year cancelled a tender process managed by the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) after procedural irregularities were uncovered.

The matter was then referred to the Auditor General.

The DHA says it has since “requested National Treasury to start the tender process afresh. It is, still, hoped that the tender will be evaluated, and awarded during the 2009/10 financial year” that ends March 31.

Treasury allocated R114 million to the project for this year and a further R335 million for FY2010/11.

ITWeb last year September reported that it had been confidentially handed a SITA tender bid evaluation document showing the agency’s Recommendation Committee (RC) was being asked to propose a joint venture (JV) led by ICT vendor Lefatshe Technologies be declared the winner of phases one and three of the project and a grouping named Oberthur SA the winner for phase two.

The documents, anonymously provided to ITWeb – the authenticity of which could not be verified – estimated the cost of phase one at R1.2 billion, that of phase two at R100 million and phase three at R15.57 billion.

Officials have repeatedly said that the project to acquire and run a secure smart card manufacturing facility is still crucial to its plans. The cards, estimated to cost about R50 each, will replace the dated bar-coded ID booklets currently in use. About 48 million cards are required, one per citizen and legal foreign resident.

A pilot project had been scheduled for this time last year, with pensioners as the sample group. In March ITWeb reported the pilot was delayed and it would take about three months to start once a tender to manufacture the ID cards had been awarded.

Home Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in June blamed delays in the often-postponed project on poor administration of the tender by SITA. She previously said the DHA was looking at the most effective way of getting the process back on track.

The project was then instead cancelled and handed to the National Treasury in September.

Smart cards were first mooted in 1995 when the DHA issued a request for tenders for a Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis) consisting of such a solution as well as

Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).

Only AFIS was awarded – in 1999. After many more delays the digitisation, as well as migration, of the home affairs fingerprint and photograph archives was completed in 2007.

Home affairs director-general Mavuso Msimang in April 2008 said 25 ICT companies had answered a request for information for the project.

Meanwhile, the DHA said in response to another question by De Villiers that it had received 1 723 340 requests for the old-style booklet IDs between January 1 and August 31 this year. Of these 410 688 were first issues and 1 312 652 were re-issues. 1 696 504 booklets were then produced and issued.