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By | Kable 29th October 2010 06:30

IBM bags £15m borders deal

Semaphore stopgap

The Home Office has awarded a support deal to extend the use of its Semaphore border system, following the cancellation of the e-Borders contract.

The government awarded the support deal to IBM without a competition, as it said that as the current supplier it is the "only possible provider" capable of keeping Semaphore in action. In July it cancelled the contract of the Trusted Borders consortium, led by Raytheon, to provide a new e-Borders system for the UK Border Agency.

"The contract term is expected to be six months but a term of up to two years has been allowed for, depending on the authority's revised e-Borders procurement strategy," reads the award notice, published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 27 October 2010.

Project Semaphore acted as the pilot for e-Borders, and has been used to profile passengers on flights and boat trips in and out of the country using advance passenger information. It started in 2004, and ended its development phase in March 2008. It was intended that Trusted Borders would provide a new system to replace Semaphore.

The government is currently reviewing the operation of e-Borders, although it committed to running such a system in the coalition agreement. The legality and practicality of e-Borders has been questioned by Parliament's Home Affairs Committee.

This article was originally published at Kable.

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