EDS turns to outside support for Customs contract

The Australian Customs Service has bought in external providers to ensure its integrated cargo system project (ICS) is delivered on time, despite a $250 million outsourcing agreement with EDS.

A spokesperson for EDS, which had been contracted to develop the system over a two-year period, said that "a large amount of work is scheduled for 2002 and EDS has acknowledged that resourcing the workload is difficult".

EDS refuted rumours that its relationship with the ACS is in tatters amid claims that it has overcharged on desktop equipment. Similar claims have been made by the South Australian auditor general Ken MacPherson. He said EDS had overcharged the state Government for hardware and services as part of its $700 million contract. .

"The move will result in some changes to the work on the project and this will have an impact on staffing levels."

Sources have told Computerworld that EDS has stripped its workforce at Customs and only a "small percentage" is left.

The spokesperson refused to comment on how many EDS people had been removed from the Customs' contract.

"This [change] will affect both permanent staff and contract staff. Until the re-deployment process is completed, EDS is not in a position to detail the number of staff involved."

The ICS will replace the ACS's current stand-alone computer systems used to process Australia's air, land and sea import and export activities. It is a core part of the department's cargo re-engineering (CMR) project, under which sophisticated tools will identify high-risk goods and tailor business arrangements for low-risk importers and exporters under an accredited client program.

EDS has confirmed that it has delivered the release 1 logical system specification of the ICS and is ready to build; however, additional application development providers have been bought in for the next phase of the development of the system.

The spokesperson said the changes to EDS and the ACS' agreement are within the scope of the existing contract.

EDS currently manages the infrastructure, desktop, voice and data aspects of the ICS project.

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