The Federal Government continues to outsource security projects to private companies, Thomson Playford advising long time client Surveillance Australia Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Cobham Plc, on its recent tender and contract for the Federal Government border protection project.
The deal is worth $1 billion and Surveillance Australia was selected as preferred tenderer in late 2005 after its tender was lodged in 2004. The contract, which is set for 14 years, commences in January 2008 and involves restructuring and upgrading of all current border surveillance technology such as Dash-8 aircraft and satellite imagery. The agreement also includes assurances by Surveillance Australia that technology updates are implemented over the course of the contract.
According to Stephen Lyons, partner at Thomson Playford in charge of the tender and selection process, the “rigorous government selection process” made the project “extremely rewarding”. He also said that in spite of the this governmental rigour, he felt there was a “high level of good faith on both sides”, as well as “an unusual level of honesty”.
Lyons acted on the current border surveillance contract when it was conceived 12 years ago. He says that the new contract is “much more detailed” than the existing one, and that “just as the contracts are more complex, so is the service as much more technology is involved”. For Lyons, these complex technological issues meant that “defining the service of the transaction and key performance indicators” required firstly a large amount of time, and secondly a large amount of care, to be taken by both parties.
However, Lyons also said that as the deal was “primarily negotiation based”, there “weren’t too many legal issues in relation to our client and the government — the base of the contract was before us in 2003, so there weren’t many substantive legal issues after that”.
Surveillance Australia CEO Peter Nottage commented that Stephen Lyons has “played a pivotal role in settling the ultimate contract”. The deal is at the stage of financial closing at the moment.