The National Crime Records Bureau has extended the last date for submission of bids for the Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) for the eighth time. The new deadline to submit bids is now July 17, and technical bids will now be opened on July 24. The NCRB, in March, had said that it was reworking the request for proposal for the AFRS. The document is still under revision. NCRB had also removed the old 172-page long RFP from its website in March (but we have uploaded a copy here). We have reached out to NCRB for more details.
AFRS is a centralised web application, and is expected to be the foundation for “a national level searchable platform of facial images” which proposed to use data from passports, the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), and the Interoperable Criminal Justice System, among other things.
Concerns prospective bidders had raised about the old RFP
While it is unclear as to what changes are being made to the RFP, in July 2019, when NCRB had held a pre-bid meeting with prospective bidders, questions about the future integration of AFRS with other systems, and how it would deal with cases of plastic surgery were raised. Other concerns raised include:
- Difficult for small Indian companies to bid: Prospective bidders had also said that requirements to qualify for developing the AFRS — as per the old RFP — could hardly be met by domestic companies, and in turn give an edge to bigger international firms. This included a request to reduce the turnover criteria, since according to the old RFP, bidders/joint venture companies should have an annual turnover of at least Rs 100 crore in each of the last 3 financial years.
- Allow more than 2 joint-bidders: Bidders had also called for allowing a consortium of three companies to place a bid for developing AFRS. The old RFP allowed a joint bid from a consortium of two companies.
- Past experience criterion was a problem: The issue of algorithms was also raised at the meeting. A vendor submitted that many companies who have a good algorithm for this system were not able to participate in the bidding because of the experience criterion. According to the old RFP, bidders were required to send a brief write-up to NCRB on their past experience with similar assignments, highlighting their hardware, software, AFRS Solution, etc.