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Revealed: UK pays Leidos £96m to migrate biometrics data to the cloud

Leidos’s ten-year contract to migrate the UK’s biometrics databases to the public cloud is worth £96.4m, new documents show.

The US defence and technology contractor revealed it had secured the lucrative contract earlier this month, but remained tight lipped about how much it was worth.

The value of the contract has now come to light in an award notice published by the Home Office. Under the terms of the deal, which was inked on 1 October, Leidos will be tasked with converging the government’s two existing biometric databases.

The data, including fingerprints, DNA and facial images, is held within the Immigration and Asylum Biometrics System (IABS), which is used by immigration agents, border force and the Passport Office, and IDENT1, which serves law enforcement agencies including the police.

According to Leidos, the project will migrate the “core Central and Bureau” elements of the databases from four data centres into one public cloud platform, the provider of which has yet to be named. The Home Office said the project would not impact who has access to the two sets of data.

Leidos said hosting the data in the cloud would prepare the way for “further digital transformation” of the service. The deal, which was identified by the procurement data company Tussell, suggests the government is increasingly willing to embrace the public cloud for sensitive data.

In a prepared statement, Tim Crofts, Leidos’s UK business development chief, said: “We look forward to working with the Home Office and its partners to deliver transformation across the key components of the Home Office Biometrics transformation programme.”

As NS Tech reported at the time, the government came under fire last summer after publishing its biometrics strategy four and a half years late. The chair of parliament’s science and technology committee, Norman Lamb, criticised the strategy for being light on detail.

“[It] seems to boil down to setting up an advisory ‘board’ to suggest policy recommendations to Government, rather than telling us what actions the Government will take and, just as importantly, what outcomes it wants to avoid”, he said.