National Audit Office of Finland (NAOF) detected shortcomings in the procurements of UMA information system made by the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) in 2011 and 2016, said Migri in a press release on Monday.
The UMA information system, which is a case management and customer relationship management system for immigration affairs, is an essential tool in many processes, including decision-making at the Finnish Immigration Service.
The UMA system is also used by other Finnish authorities, including the police, the Finnish Border Guard and Finnish embassies and consulates abroad.
The NOAF found that the procurement of the UMA system should have been re-tendered in 2011 when major changes were made in the contract. The Migri has since then made several direct procurements based on the framework agreement agreed upon in 2011 and 2016.
“Shortcomings of the procurements in 2011 and 2016 were brought up during the NAOF audit process. After the audit, we have investigated the matter and would like to thank the NAOF for bringing up these shortcomings. It is extremely important for us at the Finnish Immigration Service to identify all operations that require larger-scale development initiatives, and procurements have been one of them,” said Ilkka Haahtela, Director General of the Migri.
The Migri has been preparing to put out to tender the UMA development and maintenance since 2022.
However, it takes a long time to plan and complete the procurement since UMA is a large system and the agency needs to ensure that the system is kept operational during the entire process.
“For reasons of internal security and due to the statutory tasks of the Finnish Immigration Service, such as the processing of work-related residence permit applications, we are forced to carry out direct procurements for UMA before the competitive tendering process is finished. We will ensure that each procurement is justifiable,” said Haahtela.
The NAOF has recently audited certain long-term service procurements of the Finnish Immigration Service. The timing of the audit was convenient as the Migri has carried out and initiated large tendering procedures this year.
“We must comply with the Act on Public Procurement in all our operations. We need to ensure that we have sufficient competence in public procurement within the agency. Making public procurements of high quality will help us obtain as good services as possible for our customers while saving state funds,” Haahtela said.
This year, the Migri has utilised external consultation to support its internal resources. In addition, the Migri has allocated more resources to its internal audit team and has improved the documentation practices of the agency’s procurements.
The Migri is currently preparing for the competitive tendering planned for 2024 regarding the development and maintenance of the case management and customer relationship management system for immigration affairs. In addition, the Finnish Immigration Service is putting out to tender many sections of its reception operations.
When making public procurements, the Migri will observe the recent recommendations issued by the National Audit Office of Finland (NAOF).
In the spring of 2023, the Migri published calls for tenders for the running of adults' and families' reception centres. The tendering processes were carried out nationally, and a dynamic purchasing system was applied.
In the beginning of this autumn, the Migri has put out to tender a number of reception centres for minors and the provision of healthcare services for the reception system. This autumn, the Migri will also continue to put out to tender reception centre operations for adults and families.
“The direct procurement agreements mentioned in the NAOF report have been terminated,” said Haahtela.