NEC Australia statement on terminated ACIC BIS project

NEC Australia (NECA) has today announced that it has commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria seeking recovery of costs and expenses following the June 2018 termination for convenience of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) Biometric Identification Services (BIS) project.

In 2016 NECA was chosen by CRIMTRAC (the predecessor agency to ACIC) as the successful tenderer to deliver the BIS project for Australia’s Federal, State and Territory Police agencies (the agencies).

The aim of the BIS project was to upgrade the agencies biometrics capabilities from the current fingerprint only solution to a multi-modal Finger, Facial and Fusion solution.

In June 2018 when the BIS system was substantially built and ready to undergo systems testing by ACIC, ACIC took the curious decision to terminate the BIS project, “for convenience”, (this is a process whereby a party to a contract can terminate, even though the other party is not in breach).

Since the termination in June 2018, NECA has been attempting to recover its costs, however unsuccessfully.

As a result and after careful deliberation, NEC Australia has decided to take legal action to recoup its costs directly related to the project by commencing legal proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

NEC has a proud history of developing and delivering biometrics projects all over the world, much of it for Governments and NECA was excited about the prospect of delivering a new biometrics project for Australians.

A 56-page report produced by the Australian National Audit Office (ANOA) in relation to the ACIC BIS project was released in January 2019. The report can be seen here.

The Auditor-General concluded that "the subsequent administration of the BIS project by CrimTrac and ACIC was deficient in almost every significant respect".

Following this report, The Federal Government’s Joint Parliamentary Committee on Law Enforcement has also considered the events surrounding the terminated contract. See it here.

In neither report is NEC criticised for its handling of the BIS project.

NEC Australia maintains it met all terms of its contract and was disappointed and surprised that a decision was taken to terminate at what it deems was beyond the 11th hour in the BIS project.

NEC also notes that the ACIC CEO directed no criticism towards NEC for its expertise in areas such as Biometric project roll-outs.

NEC fully respects the right of the ACIC and its CEO to terminate a contract for reasons they see fit.

Nevertheless a substantial investment in this project was made by NEC and the company is simply seeking to have the investment at the time the contract was terminated for convenience, returned.

NEC will not publicly disclose details of its financial claim.

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Liz Ackroyd
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