The Federal Government has dumped its billion-dollar visa platform outsourcing plan.

The controversial plan to privatise Australia’s visa processing platform will be replaced with a new policy to develop a reusable enterprise-scale workflow processing capability.

Acting immigration minister Alan Tudge has described it as a “new policy approach to the acquisition and delivery of workflow processing capability”.

It has been over two years since the Department of Home Affairs said it wanted an external provider to design, build and operate a ‘global digital platform’ to replace the country’s two existing visa processing platforms.

The new platform would have been used to process 90 per cent of all visa applications, and tie-in with other third-party systems so that people could apply for visas at the point of booking travel.

There were two major bidders in play – a consortium called Australian Visa Processing, which consists of Ellerston Capital, PwC, Qantas Ventures, NAB and Pacific Blue Capital, and another group comprising Australia Post and Accenture.

Home Affairs went to lengths not to describe the plan as ‘outsourcing’, saying the department would retain “full responsibility and accountability for policy, security, risk assessment and visa decision-making”.

Mr Tudge says the government now has a new plan, terminating the platform procurement in line with a “broad new policy approach to the acquisition and delivery of workflow processing capability”.

“The Government will implement modern, easy to access, digital services for clients in line with its response to the Thodey Review of the Australian Public Service,” he said.

“This approach seeks integrated enterprise-scale workflow processing capability that could be utilised across the Commonwealth.

“Key to this is recognising the efficiencies that can be generated from large-scale government investment in technology and the re-use of capability across government.”

Reports say Home Affairs will conduct a market consultation process for a “large-scale workflow processing capability for visa and citizenship applications and additionally, for Customs functions and personnel security clearances in the Home Affairs portfolio”.

“While current visa systems continue to function, they are out of date, and processing and decision making in many cases is still undertaken manually, supported by old technology and limited risk assessment capabilities,” Mr Tudge said.

“With this approach, systems and capabilities will be well-placed to meet future demands, enabling the Government to respond to emerging global threats and improving service delivery across government.

“The work the Department has done in recent years to modernise its visa service delivery arrangements will be utilised and extended to other areas in developing and specifying the requirements for this much broader capability, on which visa processing will still be the first product delivered.”