HCL bags Aadhaar contract


12 Jan 2012
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HCL Infosystems wins Aadhaar contract of Rs 2,200 crore from UIDAI

NEW DELHI: The Aadhaar number repository and its IT infrastructure will be run by HCL Infosystems, which has beaten TCS to win a 2,200-crore contract from the Unique ID Authority of India.

According to government sources, TCS bid about 6,500 crore for the contract while Mahindra Satyam backed out from bidding in the final round. The bids were opened late afternoon on Thursday, at just an hour's notice to vendors.

UIDAI's biometrics service provider Accenture, which handles the current Aadhaar de-duplication mandate, was technically disqualified along with Wipro.

The contract is most crucial for the project as the winner is expected to handle IT and private data of about 60 crore Indian residents, by June 2013.

HCL Infosystems is now expected to develop an IT backbone for the Aadhaar project, and ultimately handle the data of all 120 crore Indian residents. A UIDAI spokesperson declined to comment on the award, but confirmed the bids were opened on Thursday. An HCL Infosystems spokesperson declined to furnish details on the contract awarded.

Five IT companies - Accenture, TCS, Wipro, Mahindra Satyam and HCL Infosystems - were shortlisted by UIDAI for its MSP contract for the final round. Tech Mahindra, IBM, HCL Technologies and HP had backed out from bidding which took place in May, last year.

HCL Group's bigger tech company HCL Technologies, even took UIDAI to court as its bank deposit of 2.5 crore was forfeited due to non bidding. It cited change of scope of tender, but lost the legal battle.

IT vendors had been complaining, as almost eight months had passed since bids in May 2011. The delay, according to UIDAI, was due to the non approval of required funds by the finance ministry.

Some IT vendors were asking UIDAI to scrap the tender as imports had gone up 15% due to fall in rupee against the dollar and there was newer cheaper inventory available in the market.

E-governance head of an IT firm, which had backed out from the bids, said the award of the contract, can be questioned. "The terms and conditions were changed as the Union home minister P Chidambaram and UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani agreed to split the biometric collection exercise after the bids were in place. It changed the scope of the contract. It now will need integration with National Population Register," the IT official added.

The winner, HCL Infosystems, currently handles the UIDAI portal, the purchase of biometric Authentication devices and disk drives for the project.

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