Home Office £120m passport-scanning deal ‘more cost-effective’ than in-house option

Department considered insourcing services before proceeding with external procurement, according to minister

Credit: Katie Collins/PA

A government minister has claimed that a £120m outsourced HM Passport Office contract for the scanning, validation, and storage of documents represented a “more cost-effective” option than brining the services in-house.

HMPO is approaching the end of a long-term contract with IT services heavyweight DXC, which was awarded a 10-year deal in 2009. The company first developed the application management system which went live in 2013. Since then, it has provided an outsourced application-processing service.

In response to a written parliamentary question from shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett, immigration minister Seema Kennedy said that, before publishing a contract notice earlier this year for a replacement deal, the Home Office had “considered a range of options before launching the ongoing procurement for scanning validation and storage services” for HMPO.

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The possibilities examined had “included assessing bringing these services in house”, Kennedy said.

“It was determined that the specialist technology required to efficiently and accurately validate and scan documents submitted to Her Majesty’s Passport Office was more cost effectively accessed via an outsourced contract than by the department procuring and supporting this technology directly,” she added.

Bids for the £120m five-year contract were open from 20 May to 10 July. The chosen firm will assist HMPO in processing applications for the approximately six million UK passports it issues each year.

“Required services include secure handling and digitisation of documentation, cashiering and payment processing, checking and validation of documentation, physical storage and retrieval of documentation and the return of documentation to the applicant,” the contract notice said. “This service will support the transformation strategy of HMPO to become a modern digital business. Reducing and removing reliance on the current paper workflow while maintaining the business continuity of existing services.”

The winning bidder will be expected to provide its services from two of its own “secure document-handling units”.

The results of the procurement will be announced in due course.


Sam Trendall

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