In this commentary piece, government ID procurement processes come under scrutiny, and we question whether the lowest price solution is always the best value for money?
Governments today face an unprecedented number of challenges in the issuance of new identity documents. They often rely on the private sector for support and are faced with determining the optimum approach for issuing a call for tenders so that they can contract with industry.
Although most governments recognise the need to incorporate advanced technologies to address the increasing counterfeit threat, many still resort to low-priced, technically compliant proposals in their procurement processes. This approach places a greater percentage weighting on price evaluation.
While this is a good method for the acquisition of commercial off-the-shelf items, it places a significant constraint on the level of security achievable in an identity document.
Essentially, a low-priced, technically acceptable acquisition runs the risk of driving bidders to offer only the baseline requirements to achieve the lowest cost to win the tender. Consequently, advanced security features are often omitted from proposed solutions, resulting in documents that are easier targets for counterfeiters and criminals.
Marginally lower purchasing costs may be significantly exceeded by the downstream costs incurred by governments and their citizens to address the consequences of document counterfeiting and related identity crimes. The loss of public trust is yet another ramification.
Unfortunately, the absence of advanced security features is recognised only after a document has been released and subsequently compromised. In fact, the inclusion of advanced security features often provides greater benefits for government institutions other than the one that led the procurement process.
Therefore, a ‘best-value’ approach is advisable for governments in the procurement of new identity documents – or in other words, the consideration of the difference between ‘price’ and ‘value for money’.
Focusing on the cheapest security solution may appear cost-effective in the short term but can end up creating vulnerabilities and additional costs over the lifetime of a document. A best-value approach, on the other hand, prioritises technical aspects, particularly the inclusion of specific advanced security features that go well beyond available baseline standards. Sophisticated and well-integrated diffractive optically variable image devices (DOVIDs) are one example of an effective component in the security architecture for identity documents.
By considering a best-value approach, governments can make informed decisions that account for the long-term costs and benefits associated with different security solutions. Increased sophistication of deployed solutions will provide documents that not only meet basic requirements, but more importantly provide a higher level of security.