Government Property Agency preps for rollout of new Whitehall-wide security-pass system

About 60,000 civil servants are already using new GovPass smart card system, as property unit revealing plans to appoint long term supplier of cards and other items to £1m contract

The Government Property Agency is progressing plans to roll out a single security-pass system across all 500,000 civil servants and departmental locations around the country.

Over the past decade, the property unit – an executive agency of the Cabinet Office – has been working towards the implementation of a unified and standardised system of passes to be used to access all government buildings. The Common Civil Service Pass was first introduced in 2014 but many civil servants may still require multiple passes to access differing buildings or departments.

The GovPass system is intended to be used across government organisations to enable all officials to gain access to any building they are entitled to enter. More than 30 buildings and 60,000 civil servants across 35 separate agencies have already been equipped with the new passes and, over the coming months and years, the GPA intends to extend the system across all agencies and their collective 500,000-plus employees.

To enable this, the property agency is seeking to award a five-year contract to a supplier that could provide an ongoing supply of hundreds of thousands of smart cards that can be encoded with the appropriate permissions and rolled out to officials over the coming months and years. According to a newly published procurement notice, the deal is scheduled to come into effect at the start of the 2024-25 year and is expected to be worth £1m to the chosen provider.

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“GPA are seeking to put in place a long-term contract for the provision of smart cards and other associated goods,” the notice said. “GovPass is the name given to the new UK government standard for card encryption on a physical access control card. It has already been delivered to 60,000 civil servants and it has ambitions to be deployed across the entire government office estate. To support the GovPass roll out the GPA requires an ongoing supply of blank, unencoded passes to support this service, as well as the ongoing need to supply buildings already deployed with GovPass and the natural churn in those buildings and their respective organisations.”

The notice outlines that the cards required are “MIFARE DESfire EV2 32Kb blank unencoded passes, carrier form factor”.

Interested suppliers can find out more at a webinar taking place at 1pm on 14 December, where the GPA will discuss the GovPass project in more detail and its requirements for this contract, as well as taking questions from potential bidders. The property unit is planning to issue a formal tender early next year.

Supporting the GovPass project are experts from the Government Security Profession which, in a blog post published in 2021, said: “These new passes are incredibly smart… we’re also investigating how we can connect it with your HR record and identity. That will mean that anything that needs to validate who you are will be able to do so with one touch – whether that’s GOV.UK checking if you can publish something; a door to a secure area making sure you’re allowed in; or a printer ensuring it’s releasing sensitive information to the right person.”

Sam Trendall

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