The South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will award the tender for its long-awaited smart ID card project within the current financial year. Following the cancellation of the project earlier this year, the DHA says it has requested National Treasury to restart the tender process. The department says, despite the delays, the smart card ID project is still one of its crucial plans. The DHA was mandated by Cabinet to replace the national identity document with a smart ID card. The smart cards, which will have embedded chips in them, are set to be used for a number of functions, such as the payment of pensions and social grants. Other possible uses are being considered.
The project was originally supposed to be piloted at the end of last year, using pensioners as the sample group, but this did not happen. In March, ITWeb reported the pilot was delayed and it would take about three months to start the project once the tender to manufacture the ID cards had been awarded. The project was instead cancelled.
Initially, government revealed the anticipated cost of the project would reach R6 billion, but it is unclear whether this figure would be applicable to the new tender.
In March 2008, the DHA said delays in the awarding of the tender by the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) meant it could not be piloted in December 2008 as planned. No explanations were given as to why SITA had failed to award the tender on time.
In June, Home Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma blamed delays in the often-postponed project on poor administration of the tender by SITA. She previously said the DHA was looking at the most effective way of getting the process back on track. SITA managed the smart ID card tender process, on behalf of the DHA. In April 2009, a forensic audit of the tender process was carried out to investigate possible irregularities. At the end of August 2009, the DHA said it had not been advised of the outcome of the forensic audit.