NEC Australia says it is “extremely disappointed” with the decision of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) to cancel the Biometric Identification Services (BIS) project.
The ACIC suspended the project on 4 June, later cancelling the project altogether and terminating NEC’s contract. The ACIC’s CEO, Michael Phelan, said the decision to cancel the project – which was intended to replace the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) used by state, territory and federal police forces – followed delays in implementing the BIS.
“The ACIC is committed to delivering projects that enhance capability for our law enforcement partners,” Phelan said in a statement released last week.
“As part of this approach we regularly review the scope, expected benefits and ongoing feasibility of our projects.”
The CEO’s statement added: “The ACIC is committed to providing national criminal information and intelligence services, including fingerprint data, to more than 70,000 police officers and other accredited users on a daily basis, to keep them and the Australian community safe.”
The BIS project was originally due to be delivered in 2017.
In a statement released late on Friday NEC Australia said that the project “was ready to be handed over to the ACIC for System Acceptance Testing when the project was placed on hold by the ACIC”.
The company added: “It is important to note that the ACIC terminated the contract under the ‘termination for convenience’ clause, and not because NEC had been in breach of its obligations. The termination for convenience clause allows government departments and agencies to terminate a contract, regardless of whether or not the contractor has committed a default or breach of that contract.”
The BIS project is currently subject to scrutiny from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).
The ANAO audit is examining whether the procurement process for the project was in accordance with federal government rules and whether the ACIC effectively managed the BIS project.
NEC said it “remains committed and ready to deliver the BIS solution, regarded as a world class solution supporting law enforcement agencies in preventing, detecting and reducing crime in our communities.”