Major e-government deal to be signed this month

7 Jan 2004

BearingPoint has emerged as the key favourite to win the €15m contract to deploy and manage the Government’s online public services system, but the contract will not be signed until later this month, has learned. The news follows three years of alleged wrangling, spiralling costs and lack of direction on the project.

It is also understood that the system will involve the establishment of a call centre in the northwest of Ireland, with Donegal earmarked as the favourite.

According to sources close to the deal, the decision to award the contract to BearingPoint and give it ‘preferred status’ was arrived at only on Christmas Eve, following three years of delays and rumoured in-fighting between the directors of Reach and the Government. The other contenders for the long-awaited contract were Siemens Business Services, Accenture and HP Services.

According to sources, the contract between Reach and BearingPoint will be signed later this month and an official announcement from Reach is expected within the next 24 hours.

As reported on, Reach, the cross-departmental agency charged with the task of implementing the Public Services Broker (PSB) came under fire in 2002 from the Department of Finance for the planning, management and excessive expenditure of the programme, with Reach spending in excess of €70,000 a week with external consultants.

The PSB is intended to be the one-stop electronic hub for interaction between the State and the citizen as part of a ‘cradle to grave’ type of relationship. It will enable citizens to do everything from filing for birth certificates to death certificates as well as applying for and updating passports, driving licences and storing essential information and data such as electronic copies of photographs and birth certificates in a central electronic vault.

The tender process began three years ago and only last June was a shortlist actually drawn up, that included Accenture, BearingPoint (formerly KPMG Consulting), HP Services Consulting & Integration and Siemens Business Services. However, last month the Reach agency published a final call for tenders, with the date for bidders to raise queries in relation to the tender process set for 31 December, 2003. The awarding of ‘preferred status’ went to BearingPoint and a contract is set to be signed later this month with the initial delivery of the system set for June.

It has been reported that BearingPoint will build the Public Services Broker using software from BEA Systems and network and storage infrastructure from Esat BT.

As well as using the internet as a means of interaction, the PSB will also see the establishment of walk-in centres around the country as well as the creation of a call centre in Donegal to handle interactions between the State and its citizens.

By John Kennedy