Thales awarded £3.8m contract for home office security service

Thales has been awarded a two year, £3.8m,contract to provide the Home Office with what it claims is a new fully-managed Public Key Infrastructure Shared Service (PKISS).

The deal, awarded through the Cabinet Office's PSN Services Framework, will include software application development and is said to encompass all aspects of services support to the Home Office – including service desk, event and incident management, change and release management, and a continual service improvement programme.

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PKISS is a key underpinning of the Home Office’s production of Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) cards in the UK: BRP cards are required for all non-EU foreign nationals in order for them to stay in the UK over a pre-determined period and they form the basis of the owner’s identification, immigration status and entitlements during their residence in the UK.

The PKISS system is used to provide encryption of the biometric and biographic data received from the Home Office to create the cards.

Beyond PKISS?

Thales has been delivering the PKISS service since 2008, when, as part of the National Identity Scheme (NIS), the former Identity and Passport Service (IPS), now Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO), signed a four-year contract with Thales for the design and implementation of a UK Public Key Infrastructure Shared Service.

A strategic solution that will replace the existing PKISS system is currently being developed by the Shared Signing Service (SSS) Project in partnership with HMPO and the Home Office, with planned implementation scheduled for Q2 2015.

The aim is to replace the current PKISS system and incorporate the systems used by HMPO to sign UK passports and the Home Office to sign BRPs into a single strategic SSS solution.

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