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Feb 23, 2017

G.O.B. Scrambling Over Passport Machine

The Immigration and Nationality Department remains under heavy scrutiny amid the ongoing Senate Special Select Inquiry…and we’ll have that coming up.  Tonight, however, there are complaints from the public that passport services have all, but come to a standstill as a result of technical difficulties being experienced with the existing machine.  The system currently in use is outdated and, as such, government has been having serious issues with respect of the present features of that mechanism.  These problems were highlighted at a previous press conference held by the Ministry of Immigration in 2016; however, addressing the glitches has proven to be a difficult fix.  In fact, the installation of a modern system will be rolled out over an eight month period.  While the department is looking into the procurement of a new system, it has fast-tracked that process in an attempt to mitigate the risk of a backlog.


Beverly Williams

Beverly Williams, Minister of State, Immigration

“The system is an old [one], it’s built on an old architecture, that it has capacity issues and that the biometric was also a problem with the supplier, that the supplier no longer was in business and we were not able to procure the licenses, therefore the biometric was deficient in the system but that we had put in other measures to ensure that those security risks that, those were taken care of [and] that there no compromises.  And we also mentioned at that time that we proposed to go to a new system, a new system where we have to go to procurement to acquire a new passport system.  And so we anticipated that there would have been some shortcomings with that system and we began the procurement process.  So that is underway and we are looking at donors and to look at some international suppliers who would come in.  As soon as there’s a launch that there would be anybody who can bid once there’s a launch for that.  But government is also going to look at its best option in terms of cost in procuring a new system, to ensure that we put in the relevant security and safeguards for a passport system.”


Isani Cayetano

“In the meantime however, is there a backlog for people who are coming into the various offices requesting new passports or extensions on existing passports?  What’s the present situation with regards to that?”


Beverly Williams

“There’s no significant backlog because the system was printing.  I believe last week sometime, we had significant breakdown.  The breakdown was intermittent and we were able to recover, but this we believe is not going to be recoverable to the extent of providing that public service that we should be providing and so we have fast tracked the procurement process.  We’re looking at how we can mitigate all those risks that could emanate from that.  So we are on the way with that but we have a backup plan.”

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