Monday, October 5, 2020

Serco lands another £45m for 'failing' COVID Test and Trace scheme

Ed.'s note: Good question posed: "Would you trust Serco to act in good faith, given their track record?"

Source: openDemocracy

Revealed: Controversial firm has won previously unreported coronavirus testing contract – while critics label its £108m call centre deal 'astonishing' and 'unethical'. 

By Caroline Molloy | 17 September 2020
A logo sign outside of a facility occupied by Serco in Fairfax, Virginia on November 26, 2017. | Kris Tripplaar/SIPA USA/PA Images 

The outsourcing giant Serco has won an additional £45m to provide COVID test centres, openDemocracy can reveal today. The multi-million pound deal has not been made public, but provides a major additional role for the controversial firm in the UK's troubled Test and Trace scheme, which has come under fire as infection rates rise across the UK. 

It has also emerged that another big Serco contract for COVID contact tracing, worth up to £432m, has a clause which allows Serco to effectively rewrite key terms on service provision – terms which have been redacted. The move has been criticised by procurement experts as "unethical" and “bad practice”, with the government’s overall approach to the contract labelled "astonishing".

David Davis MP, the former Brexit Secretary, told openDemocracy, "Whilst it's entirely understandable that the Department of Health have accelerated or maybe even short circuited some of the procurement processes in the circumstances, there is no excuse for secrecy either over the number and size of the contracts and most particularly over the level of service the contracts deliver."

"These are matters of extraordinary public interest and there is no conceivable reason for not releasing it."

As with much of the government’s coronavirus response, Serco's test site contract does not appear to have been advertised or open to public competition. Nor has the government published it, despite government guidance that this should be done within 20 days of the contract being awarded.

The Department for Health has told openDemocracy that "Serco's involvement in test site provision is covered by a separate contract" – meaning that it is separate from the contact tracing scheme – and added: "The reported Serco contract with the value of £45m is for provision of test sites."

Professor Allyson Pollock, member of Independent SAGE, said it was "beyond belief" and "extraordinary" that despite “clear evidence of the extraordinary failures of the privatised test and trace system", the government wasn't "terminating these contracts and reinvesting it into public health services and labs which have been shown to be highly effective."

Please go to openDemocracy to read the entire article on Serco's continuing and as always to be expected corruption (it's not corruption for the City of London).


London Police have Abandoned the Entire English Bill of Rights

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