The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission terminated its contract with NEC Australia for a new national biometric database after removing staff from the project earlier this month.
In a statement, the agency said it made the decision to “halt” the biometric identification services (BIS) project “in light of project delays.”
“The contract with NEC Australia for the delivery of the BIS project was terminated today,” said Michael Phelan, CEO of ACIC.
“The project was suspended by mutual agreement on June 4 while trade negotiations were underway.”
ACIC reportedly asked NEC staff working on the project to leave last week.
The commission has repeatedly refused to comment on the status of the project at the request of iTnews Last week.
The BIS project aimed to replace the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS), which contains more than eight million records.
The system is used by police across Australia and the Home Office to establish an individual’s identity from their fingerprints and palm prints.
ACIC signed a $ 52 million contract with NEC in April 2016 to develop the new system by June 2018.
But the problems with the projects, first revealed in a PwC report obtained by the Canberra schedule in January, saw costs skyrocket.
The report found that project costs had fallen from the $ 52 million budget approved by the Finance Ministry to $ 94.6 million in November last year.
He also said that the system was unlikely to be delivered in time for the June 2018 deadline after “a pattern of systemic delay,” which could force the agency to extend NAFIS for another 12 months.
NAFIS was originally developed by Morpho (now IDEMIA).
ACIC’s deal with Morpho for systems development increased by $ 20.3 million following ACIC’s decision to fire NEC staff, though the agency declined to comment on the nature of the contract .
The Australian National Audit Office is currently conducting an audit of the project at the request of ACIC.
“ACIC is committed to delivering projects that enhance the capacities of our law enforcement partners,” said Phelan.
“As part of this approach, we regularly review the scope, expected benefits and continued feasibility of our projects. “
NEC said it was “extremely disappointed” with ACIC’s decision as “the BIS solution was ready to be handed over … for systems acceptance testing when the project was put on hold.”
“NEC worked closely with ACIC to deliver the BIS project and has clearly demonstrated… that we already have a high quality solution that will meet their needs,” he said in a statement.
“The BIS solution was designed with data migrated from the existing system on February 14, 2018.”
The company also pointed out that the project was terminated “under the ‘termination for convenience’ clause, not because NEC breached its obligations.”
The BIS project is the second agreement over which NEC has lost control in recent months.
Last month, the Ministry of Education was forced to stop working on the national learning management system due to persistent delays with its launch date.
Although this was ultimately the result of poor project management on the part of the department, there were also a number of critical flaws with the NEC system.