Two French companies in the race to provide 12 million smart cards for the National ID program


Two French companies are in the running for the contract to supply 12 million smart cards for national identity cards as the government aims to replace existing citizenship cards with such cards for official use.

Thales and IDEMIA are the two companies that participated in the bid and the selected bidder will be responsible for the design, manufacture, supply, delivery, testing and production support of multipurpose biometric smart cards, according to the Department of National Identification and Civil Status.

Their offers were opened on May 28 and the evaluation is ongoing.

According to information obtained by La Poste, Thales is the lowest bidder, which could make it the market leader. Thales Dis Singapore, the regional office of Thales, cited $ 14.38 million while IDEMIA Identity and Security, France cited $ 14.61 million.

Jitendra Basnet, director general of the Department of National Identity and Vital Statistics, did not confirm the prices quoted by the two companies, saying he was unaware.

“The evaluation committee reviews the offers,” he said.

According to the ministry, the tendering process took place under a single envelope system in which the technical and financial bids were locked in a single envelope.

No separate weighting was given to the technical and financial aspects of the bids during the evaluation.

“A legally and technically qualified company can land a contract if it is also the lowest bidder,” he said.

The 2007 Law on Public Procurement and related regulations do not provide for two envelopes for tendering to supply goods to the public entity.

“A company that is eligible to participate in the bid, meets the technical specification criteria and also offers the lowest price, is awarded a contract according to the law,” said Rajesh Kumar Thapa, director of the Audit Office. public procurement.

In accordance with the Public Procurement Regulations 2007, technical capacity; manufacturing records; technical specifications of the goods; economic and financial capacity; if the goods are to be installed, the skill of the technician to involve in the installation; guarantee the proper functioning of the goods to be supplied for a determined period; the provision of maintenance of goods and the availability of services and spare parts are key criteria for the eligibility and technical capacity of the tenderer.

Basnet has not confirmed at what stage the evaluation of the offers of two French companies is taking place.

Thales operates in the areas of defense and security, digital identity and security, aerospace, space, transport and market-specific solutions. IDEMIA provides identity-related security services and sells facial recognition and biometric identification products and software to private companies and governments.

Waves Group Trading Pvt Ltd, based in Kathmandu, is the local agent of Thales. The company has been involved in the supply of computer hardware and software to various government agencies. RR Group, another company joined the offer as a subcontractor for local IT and integration work.

IDEMIA is represented in Nepal by Advantage Group.

Praveen Pradhan and Suman Shrestha are co-owners of Waves Trading Group while Rameshwor Thapa owns Advantage Group.

Basnet said, however, that he did not know the persons associated with the bidders. “Regardless of who the local agents are, we do things according to the law,” he told the Post.

IDEMIA has already issued national identity cards, having won the contract as part of a pilot program.

It was chosen to provide an end-to-end system encompassing citizen data recording and biometric deduplication to ensure that a unique identifier is issued to each individual, in addition to smart card production and personalization. . She had issued ID cards in 2018 for the pilot program.

In 2019, IDEMIA also won a public contract for the National Identity Management Information System without a call for tenders and without having to submit all of its performance bond. The decision to award the contract without competitive bidding was controversial as it was taken in violation of existing public procurement laws.

The government subsequently signed a $ 16 million contract to modernize and manage the national identity card project with IDEMIA.

Once again, IDEMIA was the only company to tender for the contract to supply 12 million smart cards to be awarded by the Department of National Identity and Civil Status during the first call for tenders.

On May 7, the ministry then launched a new call for tenders after having invalidated the initial call for tenders notice due to an offer from one company. These two companies then submitted bids as part of the re-bidding process.

According to the tender document, smart cards must be delivered within six months to 22 months from the date of signing a contract.

Meanwhile, the government has collected personal data from people, including biometric data. Even though the government aimed to collect information on 10 million people in the current fiscal year, it was only able to collect information on three million people due to the disruption caused by the Covid-lockdowns. 19, according to the department.

The government plans to introduce national identity cards with personal and biometric details of citizens with unique identification numbers. The card is to become an essential basis for the delivery of various government services and replace the current citizenship card. The biometric smart card, according to the ministry, will have multiple applications and can be read by officials using highly secure terminals, officials said.

Along with the arrival of the cards, the government planned to issue cards to those whose contact details were collected. The department is expected to receive two million cards within six months of signing the contract.

“We can distribute the new ID cards as quickly as the cards are received,” Basnet said. “We will distribute the cards to those who were registered in the system first. ”

In November 2018, the first national identity card was handed over to Bhagawati Devi Bhandari, then 101, of Phidim Municipality, Panchthar, to inaugurate the program.

Up to 117,000 cards have been issued to date.

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