DFAT to outsource Passports Online

Why take responsibility when you can sign a cheque?

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will outsource its Passports Online Web portal to a third party in an effort to improve the availability of the service.

The Australian Passport Office (APO) is responsible for the operation of DFAT's business processes and systems that support the production and issue of travel documents, and provides the Passports Online service to maximize access.

According to DFAT documents, business continuity is of "particular concern" to DFAT and underlines all of the APO's business processes.

As such, DFAT has decided to outsource the Passports Online service and is seeking a fully hosted solution, including the provision of software, hardware and support services "as necessary".

"A key focus of these requirements is to minimize the risk of Passports Online being unavailable and any consequential delays in the provision of passport services," according to DFAT.

Passports Online connects to the DFAT network via a secure link managed by DFAT and data is passed between the DFAT mainframe and Passports Online using IBM WebSphere and MQSeries.

The Australian Passport Information Service - operated by Centrelink - connects to Passports Online through the DFAT network, and DFAT expects the static content of the Passports Online will be managed through DFAT's Stellent-based content system.

DFAT is seeking a three-year contract with the successful tenderer, with an option to extend it for two years.

In addition to hosting, the contract includes provisions for application development as "Passports Online is a dynamic Web site for which there is a further requirement for updating of content and support services".

DFAT wants the handover to occur around July 1, 2008.

The contract stipulates 24 by 7 support for Passports Online, including helpdesk services, diagnosis and correction of system problems, system monitoring, recovery services, and third-party escalation.

Passports Online does about 6.2 million hits per month, including three million page views, nearly two million document views, and 138,034 visits (40 percent from the US) from some 88,000 unique visitors.

The contract also includes development support of the Passports Online application, and the successful tenderer will maintain production, development and test environment, including version control of source code.

The Passports Online service is available at www.passports.gov.au.

Do you have any questions or comments about this story? Please e-mail Rodney Gedda at rodney_gedda@idg.com.au.

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