back to article Beeb hands £560m IT deal to Atos. Again

In an effort to overhaul its massive £2.3bn contract with Atos, the BBC has awarded its Enterprise ICT and Hosting Services contract worth up to £560m over eight years to... you guessed it, Atos. An internal email sent to staff and seen by The Register said the deal represents the final stage in restructuring its Technology …

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  1. Tromos

    I concur

    "The placement of the contract with Atos presents us with a series of opportunities and challenges which I am certain we can jointly deliver and overcome."

    I see no problems with this. I'm sure they will overcome all opportunities and deliver a multitude of challenges.

    1. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: I concur

      "Opportunities" to learn new and exciting colourful language.

      "Challenges" to get Atos to actually do any fucking thing in the contract.

  2. Alister Silver badge
    Coat

    I would be interested to hear Malcolm Tucker's views on this, just let me put my earplugs in first...

  3. Your alien overlord - fear me

    If only we had a TV company who could broadcast a Rip Off Britain program. Might be the last one they do though :-)

  4. eJ2095

    ATOS..?

    Same dudes that do the PIP...

    What could possibly go wrong

    1. Haku

      Re: ATOS..?

      Given the nature of their 'healthcare' division it wouldn't surprise me if they declare harddrives with bad sectors fit for work so long as it made them money.

      1. Oh Homer
        Pint

        Re: "declare harddrives with bad sectors fit for work"

        Haha! Comment of the year!

        1. Dwarf Silver badge

          Re: "declare harddrives with bad sectors fit for work"

          Re: "declare harddrives with bad sectors fit for work"

          Actually, all hard drives come with bad sectors that are mapped our during manufacturing, its been like this since the start as nobody can manufacture defect free discs, its called the factory defect list and the bad blocks are mapped out during the manufacturing process. Grown defects that occur during life are generally not a problem, that's what the defect map is for. The drive will spare out dead blocks with one of the pre-allocated spare areas. Go read on SMART and its metrics for reading these counters. This is only a problem if the drive runs out of spare blocks due to a significant issue, or more commonly it suffers a major problem with a sensor, head or motor that renders the whole unit inaccessible.

          SSD's are the same, as are device that use NAND flash There are standard methods of dealing with these challenges (which are detailed in the manufacturers data sheets) and ultimately its what makes your IT products cheaper to produce.

          There is plenty of info out there on how this works and on the technologies that make reliable storage from raw media that inevitably contains defects. Unsorted Block Images (UBI) is a good example of this.

          Not that any of this has anything to do with the BBC/ Atos deal though.

          1. Haku
            Coat

            Re: "declare harddrives with bad sectors fit for work"

            @Dwarf, how dare you! That's utterly despicable, the written equivilant of hitting below the belt.

            Bringing facts to an argument... have you no shame?

            1. Dwarf Silver badge

              Re: "declare harddrives with bad sectors fit for work"

              Being a bit 'vertically challenged' there's not many other places to hit.

  5. Blotto Silver badge

    because to keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is clearly a sensible sane way of doing things.

    In all honesty though, migrating off an ingrained third party is a nightmare, with much pain and suffering during the divorce and moving in the new partner.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Cost of divorce

      which is why when considering marriage, be that outsourcer, software supplier, ... part of the calculation should be: what will it cost to move away at the end ?

      The supplier will, however, be doing its best, once the deal has started, to ensure that the divorce costs just rise. Think of the numbers who would like to move away from Oracle or Capita.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cost of divorce

        I work for a large public sector org who we are desperately trying to convince that they shouldn't be building their core applications in a web technology that only works with an Oracle database. It's nuts.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Korev Silver badge

        because to keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is clearly a sensible sane way of doing things.

        "Blackadder: It's the same plan that we used last time, and the seventeen times before that.

        Melchett: E-E-Exactly! And that is what so brilliant about it! We will catch the watchful Hun totally off guard! Doing precisely what we have done eighteen times before is exactly the last thing they'll expect us to do this time!"

        Youtube of the above

    3. moonpunk

      Spot on! Which is why you can be sure that after the 5 years of this contract they will most definitely exercise the 3 year extension clause - means as long as the licence fee keeps rolling in then they won't have to worry about running a procurement until 2025!

      What an absolute disgraceful use of public funds!

  6. Haku
    Unhappy

    From the same company that brought you...

    "In the United Kingdom, from 1998 - 2015 Atos Healthcare was at the centre of a controversy over the management of contracts by their healthcare division of the Work Capability Assessment for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

    In August 2015, statistics from the Department of Work and Pensions revealed that 2,380 people had died between 2011 - 2014 soon after being found fit for work through disability benefit assessments.

    In 2014, "the DWP negotiated an early exit from the existing WCA contract with the private firm, Atos, after raising concerns about the quality of its work."

    However, Atos still (as of October 2016) undertakes work for the DWP in assessing Personal Independence Payment applications.The Press Association revealed in 2017 that Atos, used by the DWP to make its decisions, are set to be paid more than £700m for their five-year contracts against an original estimate of £512m."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atos

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fun with statistics

      In August 2015, statistics from the Department of Work and Pensions revealed that 2,380 people had died between 2011 - 2014 soon after being found fit for work through disability benefit assessments.

      Out of how many people? You'd need to compare the percentage that 2,380 people represents of the total 2011-2014 "fit for work through disability assessments" who died versus the overall population adjusted for age, sex, health record, etc.

      Quoting a number like that also doesn't take into account the reason the person died. If someone had a back injury and was on disability and later found fit, if they died of a heart attack that's no fault of the "fit for work" assessment. If they had a heart attack, were found fit and then had another heart attack a week later, maybe they weren't fit, or maybe it was just bad luck - people who have had a heart attack are more likely to have a second one.

      1. tedleaf

        Re: Fun with statistics

        You've never been through one of atos's "medical fitness for work exams have you ?

        It's so well known how awful aria are at the job I'm suprised anyone can through any kind of arguement up as a defence,wether it correct or not..

        How about the hundreds of thousands of people who get no benefits at all because aria get paid far more to turn someone down than they do to allow a claim !!

        Various govs and aria should be lynched for their behaviour,although they may save some money short term,the long term cost to the system is far more..

        1. Haku

          Re: Fun with statistics

          I will have to go through Atos's fitness-for-work exam sometime in the future, I already have trouble sleeping but just the thought of this impending event can make it worse at times.

          It's some scary shit realising that some 'unfit-for-their-job' company who employ people without the level of medical knowledge needed to properly assess a vast range of medical conditions is sealing the fate of so many people's ability to live independent lives without having to rely on the good will of family / friends / charities.

          1. Vic

            Re: Fun with statistics

            I will have to go through Atos's fitness-for-work exam sometime in the future

            The first time through, they will declare you fit for work. Do not take this. Keep appealing - they are financially-motivated to get you to give up in despair.

            My missus spent two years after her operation being told that she was fit to work. When - eventually - we got in front of a doctor to assess her, his comment was simply "I have no idea why you are here - there is no doubt as to your inability to work". She got her early retirement.

            Vic.

        2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Fun with statistics

          > You've never been through one of atos's "medical fitness for work exams have you ?

          Neither had many of the people Atos found fit for work.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fun with statistics

        The stats quoted are misleading. The FOI request where it comes from asked how many people died within x weeks of a claim, not an assessment. This included people who were assessed, put on benefits, and then subsequently died. As a result of dying, their benefits were stopped.

      4. James 51

        Re: Fun with statistics

        @DougS As an avid listener of more or less normally I would applaud your coloration is not causation attitude. However after having seen friends and family go through the process, the only conclusion I can draw is that there is a deliberate policy of driving down the number of people qualifying for benefits by means possible and this does include things such as completely ignoring all medical evidence when making an 'assessment' and dam the consequences to those who are least able to fight back. I know of one person who went back to their consultant after being declared fit for work and not ill at all. The consultant was so angry they personally called Atos. I'm not privy to the contents of that call but that person got a call from Atos soon after and was told that after an internal review the decision had been changed and they were getting the maximum award. That wasn’t an isolated case either but it’s hard to fight the decisions when the process is weighted against claimants (and even then there is a huge number of appeals which are successful).

        1. HAL-9000

          Re: Fun with statistics

          Indeed, I've been through the 'process' with a loved one who was granted full benefits upon appeal. That indeed seems to be the entire point of this costly and pointless process. Possibly(robably) some accept the outcome of their ATOS decision, and never appeal. The scummy politicians think this charade is perfectly acceptable.

          Ideology!

          Before ATOS existed the claimant GP's word, and opinion was accepted.

          Not so now

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Who created the rules Atos is operating under?

            Was it Atos or NHS? Presumably the latter, so they should be getting the blame. I doubt Atos has decided on their own to deny rightful benefits since they aren't on the hook for funding the benefits they allow. Probably NHS developed the criteria, or has put "incentives" into to place for Atos to try to minimize the number of approvals they grant.

            And why is an IT company doing this at all, is it because a computer program makes the decisions and Atos maintains the computer system running that program?

            1. James 51
              Trollface

              Re: Who created the rules Atos is operating under?

              Don't feed the troll.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Who created the rules Atos is operating under?

                I'm not trolling. I'm not from the UK so I don't understand how your system works, and really don't understand why an IT company is making these decisions. Why/how did your government farm that off to them? I would be equally baffled if IBM was making choices on benefits denials in the US.

                1. Stuart Moore

                  Re: Who created the rules Atos is operating under?

                  I'm afraid it's all true. Nothing to do with the NHS (benefits are handled by a different government department) but yes there are countless stories of atos assessors writing stuff in reports without asking the interviewee or having any way to know.

                  The other bit of stupidity - this is costing more than it saves.

                  Someone is doing very well out of it.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. tedleaf

    Ex bbc

    I wonder how many ex-BBC employees or their relavatives are now "working" at atos or benefit from these contracts..

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Ex bbc

      Lots I'd guess, but obviously not the talented programmers the BBC once had.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ex bbc

      Me, not out of choice but tupe. No links to pip just keep trying to do my job.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What providers are people actually happy with? Whatever big contract is awarded and then reported on this website, everyone slams the provider for being crap.

    So what providers should they be going with?

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Whatever big contract is awarded and then reported on this website, everyone slams the provider for being crap.

      Well yes. This is because all of the big providers, who inevitably get the contracts awarded to them, have a long history of failing to deliver what they are contracted to do - in some cases, failing to produce anything tangible at all.

      And yet despite this, the government persist in awarding more contracts - often for the same requirements, to the same providers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        difficult for the smaller guys to participate

        Although smaller providers tend to be able to work more efficiently and with a higher level of quality, they don't have the scale to line up against these huge contracts, nor are they able to carry the level of risk associated with taking them on, as there are almost always huge liabilities for failure.

        This means the same names - Capita, BT, ATOS, Serco, TCS etc. come up time and time again.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: difficult for the smaller guys to participate

          "as there are almost always huge liabilities for failure."

          Oh, please. My side are splitting!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I've been on both sides of the fence.

        The government department I worked for were awful at running a tender and the providers knew it. We would fail to put together a coherent set of requirements. So the providers could bid low safe in the knowledge that the inevitable change requests could come and they could put a hefty price-tag on them ("you didn't specify that you wanted to be able to WRITE information in to that database? That's an extra £1M for that change sir..."). We also weren't allowed to take into account previous dealings with the providers when making decisions, otherwise we would have eliminated all of them from the tender process!

        Meanwhile on the provider side, we would throw the A team at the bid to impress the customer, but as soon as the bid was won and signatures were on the contract, the A team would be assigned to the next victim^Wbid leaving a C team to come in and implement something they knew nothing about.......

  9. Bob Hoskins
    Big Brother

    Slightly off topic

    What circumstances would the police reasonably accept if I gave a TV Licensing guy on my doorstep a damn good thrashing? Just wondering for no reason at all.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Slightly off topic

      Would this "acceptance" occur before or after they send round the heavy squad to pepper-spray and/or taze your during the operation to arrest a clearly violent perp?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Slightly off topic

      Why stoop to their level? Just slam the door in their face. They've absolutely no legal power to insist on entering your property.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's a Labour Government for you!

    Always worth pointing out in the run-up to a General Election that it was the last Labour Government that started all the benefit assessments by private companies, not the Tories.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: That's a Labour Government for you!

      No - it was the Wigs ffs.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    French Outsourcing

    Gotta hurt to know the French are cashing in on the UK's poor situation like this.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All signed and sealed

    at the 18th hole.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As we have a picture of Tucker here's a Tucker classic:

    "This is going to be like the Shawshank Redemption except more crawling through shit and no redemption"

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    pip

    Having recently gone through the process. For 8 months it has been a living nightmare. first you have the atos assessment (they will ignore all your written evidence(barely consider medical evidence)) then you can request a mandatory reassessment(full backing to atos assessment)... there is no time frame on this then you can appeal after that to a hm courts and tribunal service(t is a court where they will have at least looked at all your medical history that you must resource and provide. they will then ask you questions but will not allow you to explain in detail..one question which was asked of me was .in your statement, you had a home invasion where you were repeatedly stabbed by 3 men and had your cheek bone broken........but can you still talk to your mum 0 points. I am too stressed and tired to fight any more... Congratulations you broke me.). There is a further appeal you can do

    To the trolls I should hope that you suffer the same fate but i wouldn`t want anyone to experience this.

    This is a money cut back exercise on the weak and vulnerable.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Having recently gone through the process. For 8 months it has been a living nightmare. first you have the atos assessment (they will ignore all your written evidence(barely consider medical evidence)) then you can request a mandatory reassessment(full backing to atos assessment)... there is no time frame on this then you can appeal after that to a hm courts and tribunal service(t is a court where they will have at least looked at all your medical history that you must resource and provide. they will then ask you questions but will not allow you to explain in detail..one question which was asked of me was .in your statement, you had a home invasion where you were repeatedly stabbed by 3 men and had your cheek bone broken........but can you still talk to your mum 0 points. I am too stressed and tired to fight any more... Congratulations.). There is a further appeal you can do

    To the trolls I should hope that you suffer the same fate but i wouldn`t want anyone to experience this.

    This is a money cut back exercise on the weak and vulnerable.

  16. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Tower model?

    Maybe if the reference is to Leonard Cohen's Tower of Song...

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