Surroundings Company dumps Fujitsu as Put up Workplace scandal takes its toll

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By Calvin S. Nelson

The Division for Surroundings, Meals and Rural Affairs (Defra) has ended Fujitsu’s function in offering a flood warning system to the UK, two months after signing an extension of as much as 12 months. 

The transfer comes with Fujitsu underneath excessive ranges of scrutiny within the UK, resulting from its function within the Put up Workplace Horizon scandal, and ends a ten-year relationship with the Surroundings Company.

In December, Fujitsu was awarded an extension to the £17.5m contract, which started in 2015, for as much as 12 months whereas a long-term provider was chosen, with Fujitsu among the many shortlisted bidders. The Surroundings Company – the a part of Defra accountable for flood alerts – has now appointed Leidos Improvements UK to run the service as a part of a six-year deal value about £24m.

Fujitsu’s lack of the contract comes after the Put up Workplace Horizon scandal hit nationwide media headlines. When the extension was signed on the finish of final 12 months, Fujitsu’s function within the scandal was being examined as a part of the general public inquiry, however the TV drama Mr Bates vs the Put up Workplace had not been broadcast. The nationwide furore that adopted the sequence led to the Surroundings Company going through questions on its selection of provider.

The Leidos deal consists of the supply of a software program bundle and data programs, communication software program, phone and information transmission providers, IT providers and programs and technical consultancy providers. The tender award discover mentioned the present system has remained largely unchanged for a few years.

“This can be a complicated know-how property, and consists of telemetry programs, forecasting programs and providers all feeding into messages being issued from the flood warning system,” it mentioned.

Though Fujitsu introduced a pause in bidding for presidency contracts, as a concession amid fury over the Put up Workplace scandal after the TV drama, this doesn’t embrace work with present prospects. Fujitsu bid for the brand new contract in addition to Accenture and IBM, which additionally misplaced out.

Fujitsu’s status has taken an enormous hit because the broadcast of ITV’s drama concerning the Put up Workplace, which instructed the tales of subpostmasters who grew to become victims of the scandal, triggered by Fujitsu’s error-prone Horizon software program. The Japanese provider’s UK operation is underneath intense scrutiny and there’s strain on it to stop bidding for all authorities contracts. It has already agreed to pay in direction of the large prices of compensation, estimated to be effectively over £1bn, and introduced it might pause bidding for presidency contracts till after the present statutory public inquiry.

However it’s but to agree how a lot it can pay and its self-imposed pause on bidding for presidency contracts has performed little to quench its urge for food for UK public sector work. Pc Weekly has seen leaked Fujitsu inside communications which reveal the provider is focusing on £1.3bn in UK authorities enterprise within the subsequent 12 months and has a backlog of about £650m in contracts to fulfil.

Additional inside communications seen by  Pc Weekly additionally revealed that Fujitsu is spending closely on managing the present scandal fallout. It has sought exterior help in a challenge generally known as Holly, the place it has engaged PR, moral enterprise consultants and legal professionals, at a price of £27m thus far.

In response to information shared with Pc Weekly by procurement consultants Tussell, Fujitsu has solely gained one authorities contract thus far in 2024, down from six on the similar level final 12 months.

The Put up Workplace scandal was first uncovered by Pc Weekly in 2009, revealing the tales of seven subpostmasters and the issues they suffered because of the accounting software program (see timeline of Pc Weekly articles concerning the scandal under).

Additionally learn: What you want to know concerning the Horizon scandal 

Additionally watch: ITV’s documentary – Mr Bates vs The Put up Workplace: The actual story 

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