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Aussie Customs may offshore to India

Australian Customs may come under criticism as it plans to offshore work to countries like India and China.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 12:11 IST

Australian Customs may come under severe criticism for opening the doors to offshore software developers in countries like India and China.

The Customs' willingness to use foreign software developers became public on Monday through a tender published online.

It reportedly clarified "not to exclude offshore sourcing for the provision of application maintenance and support" for the development of a critical software to regulate the flow of people and goods to and from Australia.

A vociferous anti-outsourcing lobby is expected to come out firing immediately to slam the tender for the development of a programme which might have some importance for the internal security of Australia.

According to media reports here, Australian Customs Service (ACS) has issued four tenders to replace a nine-year old contract worth 522 million Australian dollar with IT services company EDS.

Yesterday's tenders are also being seen by the commentators as a "turnaround" by the Customs and other Federal departments.

Earlier this year, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) had given indication of opening doors overseas.

It will also consider proposals to use offshore developers for work on its 495 million Australian dollar 'Systems for People' IT overhaul.

A DIMA official had reiterated yesterday that the 'Systems for People' tender issued earlier this month was open to offshoring options.

Australian Immigration deputy secretary and chief information officer Bob Correll told The Australian newspaper that any decision to use offshore facilities in low-cost centres such as India or China would need to involve Minister Amanda Vanstone.

"We would certainly be consulting first with our minister before any decisions would be taken to do things that would involve offshoring," he said.

"There is, however, nothing that would prevent that from happening," the DIMA official added.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is reported to be another Australian Federal department considering outsourcing to India.

The ATO is poised to decide soon whether to allow Accenture to use facilities in India for developing its 450 million Australian dollars 'Change Programme'.