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Authorities urged to assessment £2bn in Fujitsu contracts amid Horizon scandal

Strain is mounting on the federal government to assessment greater than £2bn in new contracts awarded to Fujitsu since a court docket ruling in 2019 discovered its Horizon IT system brought about accounting errors that have been blamed on greater than 900 put up workplace operators who have been then wrongly prosecuted by the Put up Workplace.

The Japanese firm, which continues to carry the distinguished standing of being a key “strategic provider” making greater than £100m yearly from authorities work regardless of the scandal, has received 101 new contracts price £2.04bn for the reason that landmark authorized ruling.

These embrace new contracts with the Residence Workplace, HM Income and Customs, the International, Commonwealth and Growth Workplace and the Division for Work and Pensions, in line with the federal government procurement analysts Tussell.

The determine doesn’t embrace the £2.4bn lifetime contract with the Put up Workplace for the defective Horizon system, which prompted what has been described as probably the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK historical past.

On Wednesday, the Scottish authorities moved to assessment some contracts awarded to Fujitsu after criticism of its function within the scandal. Angela Constance, Scotland’s justice secretary, stated she would talk about a deal signed in 2020 with Fujitsu to assist digital vote counts for native elections with fellow ministers.

The Cupboard Workplace didn’t reply to questions on whether or not it will observe Scotland’s lead and assessment Fujitsu contracts or the corporate’s strategic provider standing, or why it had continued to be awarded enterprise after Horizon was proved to be defective.

“I don’t know why the federal government is constant to offer Fujitsu contracts – very, very huge contracts,” stated the Conservative former cupboard minister David Jones. “I can’t perceive why the federal government needs to proceed to cope with them.”

The 2019 court docket of attraction ruling decided that the Put up Workplace had been in “denial” about “bugs, errors and flaws” in Horizon within the “Twenty first-century equal of sustaining the Earth is flat”, marking a turning level for victims.

Fujitsu has made nearly £7bn from 200 IT contracts since 2012. Its 4 largest repeat clients are the Ministry of Defence, the Residence Workplace, HMRC and the Monetary Conduct Authority, which gave it 68 contracts between them price greater than £2.7bn since 2012.

The corporate, which has by no means confronted any type of punishment for its function within the Horizon scandal, has £2.9bn price of public sector contracts attributable to expire over the following two years.

On Wednesday, Kevin Hollinrake, the UK minister with accountability for postal affairs, stated Fujitsu may face “monetary sanctions” to assist fund compensation for subpostmasters and their households whether it is discovered at fault.

Fujitsu executives have been summoned to offer proof to MPs on the Commons enterprise and commerce committee subsequent week.

The Metropolitan police have interviewed two Fujitsu workers beneath warning in relation to allegations of perjury and perverting the course of justice associated to Put up Workplace trials.

In 2013, the safety corporations G4S and Serco handed again their contracts to electronically tag criminals after fraud allegations over the best way they charged the federal government for his or her providers.

The federal government has a listing of 39 strategic suppliers, with every assigned a crown consultant, who’re members of the industrial relationships board (CRB), which meets month-to-month and assigns an total efficiency score of black, crimson, amber or inexperienced (RAG) to every firm.

The Cupboard Workplace in the end oversees suppliers and contracts.

Vincent Kelly, who has held roles at Logica, the cell phone firm Orange and music royalties assortment physique PRS for Music, is the crown consultant for suppliers together with Fujitsu and Virgin Media O2 and has labored within the function for the Cupboard Workplace since 2018.

In 2018, after the collapse of the outsourcing firm Carillion, the general public accounts committee (PAC) moved to research “weaknesses” in authorities contracting. The following report criticised the federal government for working a procurement course of that incentivised price controls and never guaranteeing the suitable provider was chosen.

“It should look with recent eyes on the motivations of corporations at present bidding for central authorities work, and develop a technique that requires contract-awarding our bodies to look past bottom-line prices,” stated Meg Hillier, the PAC chair, on the time. “Essential to this will probably be to embed procurement greatest follow throughout departments.”

It additionally criticised the RAG score system as not working “both as a carrot or a stick” and stated there should at all times be “efficient oversight” of the crown consultant system and the shut relationship loved with suppliers.

“With out efficient oversight of those relationships there’s a danger that strategic suppliers turn into secretive ‘sub-departments’ of Whitehall,” stated Hillier.