THE STATE HAS launched a tender for the production of the next round of Public Service Cards (PSC).
The controversial card, which was first introduced in 2012 for accessing certain social welfare payments but has now been expanded as a requirement for many other services, currently has a seven-year lifespan.
Now, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) has launched an official tender for bids for the ‘implementation, production, personalisation and distribution of the Public Services Card and the provision of associated services’.
This news suggests that, despite concerns over the PSC’s legal viability and the extent to which it will comply with the EU’s forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Social Protection is fully committed to the card for the foreseeable future.
To date, 3.14 million generation one PSCs have been produced for 2.65 million people at a cost of €59.7 million.
The new generation PSC is set to cater for people whose card has expired, and also those who may have turned 18 (adult age) or 66 (retirement age) since their card was issued.
While the second generation of the card (dubbed PSC-2 in the tender documents) is expected to closely model the functionality of its original incarnation, the newer model is set to boast ‘additional features’, specifically those designed to take advantage of the advent of contactless technology.
The initial card had two datasets – visible (including PPS number, name, and signature) and private (date of birth etc – contained on the card’s chip). The newer generation of card doesn’t look set to change much from its original incarnation from that point of view.
A new microprocessor will be included on the PSC chip in order to allow for the aforementioned contactless functionality.
Whether or not this means the card will actually be used for contactless transactions is unclear – though the inference would appear to be that is the department’s intention.
Assistant secretary of DEASP’s Client Identity Services section Tim Duggan made brief reference to the new tender, which went live on 18 February, during his appearance before his department’s Oireachtas committee on Thursday afternoon.
He also acknowledged that the producer of the card in its current guise, an Irish-registered company called Biometric Card Services (BCS – ironically named given DEASP denies that the card contains any biometric data), has had its contract temporarily extended for a period of one year while the new tender remains outstanding.
DEASP declined to clarify to TheJournal.ie whether or not BCS may apply to win the new contract – however nothing in the tender documentation indicates that the company would not have that opportunity.
The response deadline for the new tender is 29 March 2018.
The tender requests costings and estimates from prospective bidders regarding the predicted cost of producing 2 million new cards, and 0.6 million of the card’s free travel variant.
A proposed budget is not outlined however. DEASP would not be drawn on what that budget might be when queried.
In the tender’s Q&A section, it’s acknowledged that a Personal Identification Number (PIN) may be issued with the new version of the card, suggesting that a scenario similar to chip-and-PIN transactions with credit and debit cards may also be planned for.
Source: The Journal