UK Passport Agency

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Passport Agency decides to introduce the digital passport

July 1996

Passport Agency decides to introduce the digital passport to minimise the risk of the existence of fraudulent passports, replace its existing computer system and improve its efficiency and effectiveness. This would be done through a private finance or outsourcing contract that should bring efficiency savings.

Contractors' bids received.

April 1997

Passport Agency awards contract for printing and despatching digital passports

June 1997

Passport Agency awards 10-year PFI contract, valued at £120 million, for printing and despatching digital passports to The Stationery Office (now Security Printing & Systems Limited).

Passport Agency awards the contract to Siemens Business Services

July 1997

Passport Agency awards 10-year PFI contract, valued at £120 million, to Siemens Business Services for the collection, storage and transmission of passport application data.

Anouncement: children require their own passports to travel abroad.

April 1998

Announcement made that from October 1998 children not already on a passport would require their own passports to travel abroad. Details of requirement included on new application forms distributed from this time.

New IT system introduced to the Passport Agency’s Liverpool Office.

5 October 1998

New IT system and outsourced procedures introduced to the Passport Agency’s Liverpool Office. One hundred staff transferred to Siemens. Introduction of requirement for children to hold a separate passport if not already included on a passport.

Decision to roll-out new system to the Newport Office.

9 November 1998

Passport Agency Management Board decides to roll-out new system and procedures to the Newport Office.

New system introduced to Newport Office.

16 November 1998

New system and procedures introduced to Newport Office. 96 staff transferred to Siemens.

Postpone introduction of new system to remaining four offices.

18 November 1998

Passport Agency Management Board decides to postpone introduction of new system to remaining four offices.

Include measures to boost output

22 February 1999

Passport Agency Management Board decide to concentrate on prioritising applications by travel dates. Other measures agreed to boost output including additional payment to staff to increase overtime working (subsequently extended and increased).

Home Office expresses serious concern at developing situation.

March 1999

Home Office expresses serious concern at developing situation. Business recovery plan agreed.

Free two-year extensions to recently expired passports

May 1999

Free two-year extensions to recently expired passports offered to public queuing at Passport Offices. Virtual shutdown of telephone enquiry service at Liverpool.
Transfer of work from Liverpool and Newport to other offices ceases.

Range of emergency measures introduced

June 1999

Range of emergency measures introduced, including additional 100 staff, free passport extensions at Post Offices, special telephone helpline established.