SITA bungles smart ID card tender

Paul Vecchiatto
By Paul Vecchiatto, ITWeb Cape Town correspondent
Cape Town, 18 Mar 2009

The State IT Agency (SITA) has bungled the tender for smart ID cards that will replace the country's aging green identity documents, leaving the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) without any explanation.

At a parliamentary media briefing yesterday, by the Governance and Administration Cluster of ministries, the DHA said delays in the awarding, by SITA of the tender to produce the ID smart card, meant the smart card could not be piloted in December 2008 as planned.

Smart ID cards were originally supposed to be piloted at the end of last year, using pensioners as the sample group; however, this has not happened.

DHA spokesperson Siobahn McCarthy says her department is still awaiting an explanation from SITA as to why the tender has not been awarded.

“The pilot is now delayed and it will take about three months to start once the tender to manufacture the ID cards has been awarded,” McCarthy says.

The pilot is now delayed and it will take about three months to start once the tender to manufacture the ID cards has been awarded.

Siobahn McCarthy, spokesperson, Department of Home Affairs

In response, SITA acting CEO Femke Pienaar says that, during the tender adjudication process, which started in June last year, confidential information was made public and this compromised the integrity of the process.

“SITA subsequently had to reappraise its governance checks and balances, to ensure the process could withstand scrutiny from both a legal and governance perspective,” Pienaar notes.

She says ensuring the integrity of SITA tender processes is crucial, and throughout the process there are various phases to verify compliance, due diligence and to identify risks.

“It is crucial that these gateways be cleared, as each phase acts as a quality check on crucial aspects,” she says.

This is the second IT tender process that has placed SITA - which falls under the Department of Public Service and Administration's jurisdiction - and the DHA at loggerheads.

Last year, home affairs minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula called in the auditor general following allegations by members of Parliament of impropriety in the awarding of the “Who am I Online” system.

McCarthy says Mapisa-Nqakula has not finalised her decision with respect to that report.

Related stories:
Smart ID cards for SA citizens only
Smart ID project on track
Home Affairs IT woes continue