U.K. lawmakers criticized French outsourcing company Atos for providing “incorrect and potentially misleading information” in bidding for a contract to assess welfare claimants’ disabilities.
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee published a report today on the Department for Work and Pensions’ implementation of “Personal Independence Payments,” describing the new system as a “fiasco” that left some people waiting more than six months for their claims to be assessed.
According to the committee, when Atos submitted its tender, it incorrectly said it had “contractual agreements” in place with hospitals and physiotherapists to do the assessments.
“We are concerned that Atos appears to have included incorrect and potentially misleading information in its bid for the contract,” the committee’s chair, opposition Labour Party lawmaker Margaret Hodge, said in an e-mailed statement. “The department should challenge claims made in bids, so that it can demonstrate it has not relied on inaccurate or exaggerated information when awarding contracts.”
Atos rejected the suggestion it misled the DWP. “At the point of go-live, they knew our capacity, our partners and the number of centers we would be using,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “That we could not have binding contracts in place before we signed a contract with the DWP is simply common sense and in no way misleading. What we did have were detailed written proposals from the suppliers.”
In March, Atos compensated the government over its performance in a separate program to assess whether disabled people are fit for work and ended its contract early.