The Office of the e-Envoy (OeE) is looking to build a £20m secure web-based email system capable of handling up to 60 million users of the Government Gateway.
An invitation for suppliers to express interest for the five-year contract was put out by the OeE at the end of December.
It wants the final system to be based on a pilot scheme which has been successfully used by the Inland Revenue since October 2001.
"The tender is designed to formalise and enhance an existing secure mail pilot. The new system will allow government departments, businesses and citizens to communicate securely," a spokeswoman for the OeE told vnunet.com.
The existing pilot is an XML-based Gateway-hosted messaging service that provides secure two-way email between the Revenue and registered users of the Gateway.
When a user sends a message, an XML message is generated and sent out of the Gateway to the department's back-end systems.
Minimum specifications for the full system are that it must be capable of handling free-text communications, message attachments of varying sizes and formats, and interaction with various standard forms.
Suppliers have until 25 January 2003 to register interest, and invitations to tender will be sent out in early February.
The OeE wants the email system to provide members of the public with one secure mailbox when they register online for a Government Gateway service, which can then be used for any subsequent services.
The mailbox could only be used in relation to those services, and be accessible via a web browser or third-party software installed on their PC, protected by 128-bit Secure Socket Layer security.
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