Federal government inks $44.2 million border security deal

15 million travellers a year processed

Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has inked a four-year contract worth $44.2 milliion with CPS Systems, a provider of electronic border management solutions.

The vendor provides systems for processing visa applications for checking air and sea passengers and crew prior to their arrival in Australia.

Known as the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) and Advance Passenger Processing (APP) systems, the goal is to secure national borders as well as streamline communications between airlines and governments by satisfying Advance Passenger Information (API) requirements.

For airline travellers, the checks are done prior to boarding the aircraft as part of the check-in process.

CPS Systems managing director of intelligient border solutions, Barry Grisdale, said the new contract continues an 11-year border security partnership with the federal government, which was expanded last year to include a contract to develop, install and support an enhanced border control system in key Indonesian ports.

Grisdale said the company is currently in negotiations with government agencies in the US and UK. The company just completed the implementation of an APP solution in Kuwait.

Vince McMahon, first assistant secretary of DIAC's border security division, said ETA and APP are unique systems.

"We screen more than 99 per cent of air and sea arrivals coming to Australia, incorporating all 47 airlines that fly into Australia," McMahon said.

"Australia is a pioneer in the electronic visa regime; starting with overseas students and working holiday makers who could apply online for a visa, the technology has been well received, vastly reducing waiting times and manual processing demands on DIAC staff, while security procedures have remained paramount.

An estimated 3.5 million ETAs are issued by Australia each year, with 26 million issued since the system was established in 1996. The APP system was introduced in 1998 and now processes in excess of 15 million travellers a year.

We are in discussions on border security solutions with a number of nations, including government agencies in the United States and the United Kingdom."

The system also provides software to screen passengers against airline security watch lists.

As a result of recent contract wins, CPS Systems' border security division has increased its staffing by 100 per cent in the past six months.

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