Publication - FOI/EIR release

Universal Credit: decision making process, both in terms of social policy and IT procurement: FOI review

Published: 9 Nov 2018

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
9 Nov 2018
Universal Credit: decision making process, both in terms of social policy and IT procurement: FOI review
FOI reference: FOI/18/01964
Date received: 17 August 2018
Date responded: 14 September 2018
 
Information requested
 

“Information that explains the Scottish Government's decision making process, both in terms of policy and IT procurement, that would answer one fundamental question: 

In short given the well publicized failures of Universal Credit et al, what steps are the Scottish Government taking to ensure we don't simply repeat the same failures? The focus is on the IBM deal because that's the vehicle for implementation, however ideally it would be designed in a new way different from what the DWP has done before, in terms of better social policies etc. Understanding what is being done differently is therefore the overall question.” 

Response
“My request specifically asked about the decision to outsource these new powers to IBM, requesting the details of the procurement process as well as the policy context. The response only provides for the policy context, which as said is public material. What is missing is the core matter, which is the documentation that justifies the selection of IBM, versus any other supplier, as being the best choice for achieving those policy goals, which is not public and hence this FOI request.”

I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed, with modifications.  

The original reply did provide you with some of the information you requested. However, your original request for information was considered too narrowly and should have also responded with further information on procurement.  I apologise for this error in the handling of your original request for information.  I have highlighted the need for officials to consider the wider scope of requests for information made to avoid any recurrence of this issue.

I have therefore gone on to consider your clarification and the information the Scottish Government holds.  I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested. However, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under sections of FOISA, which are set out below, applies to that information.

FOISA exemptions that applies to some of the that information requested are:

  • 25(1) - Information otherwise accessible;
  • 30(b)i - Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs that would be likely to inhibit substantially free and frank provision of advice;
  • 30(b)ii – Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs that would be likely to inhibit substantially free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation;
  • 33(1)b – Commercial interests and the economy that would likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of any person (including, without prejudice to that generality, a Scottish public authority);
  • 36(1) – Confidentiality of communications could be maintained in legal proceedings is exempt information; and  
  • 38(1)b – Personal information of a third party.

The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in Annex A to this letter. Annex B sets out a schedule of information that is being released, and Annex C is the information that is being released.

Finally, you may also wish to note that we have just published our technology and digital strategy which you can access via this link:

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/social-security-scotland-digital-technology-strategy/

This sets out the approach and direction we are taking to develop the high level architecture and solution design to support the new agency, Social Security Scotland, in delivering Scotland’s first devolved welfare system.

Reasons for not providing information

Section 25(1) 

An exemption under section 25(1) of FOISA (Information otherwise accessible) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. On this you may wish to note that the Scottish Government’s officials have co-operated with Audit Scotland providing them with information to assist them in their role of delivering independent assurance that public money is spent properly, efficiently and effectively. As such I would  draw your attention to the Audit Scotland Report ‘Managing the implementation of the Scotland Acts’. You can read this report on the Audit Scotland web site at: http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/uploads/docs/report/2018/nr_180328_managing_scotland_acts.pdf If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

Section 30(b)i and 30(b)ii  

Exemptions under section 30(b)i and 30(b)ii  of FOISA (free and frank advice and exchange of views) apply to some of the information requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. The exemptions recognise the need for Ministers to have a private space within which to seek advice and views from officials before reaching the settled public position which will be given in whatever final procurement policy process that is to be used. Disclosing the content of free and frank briefing material on procurement policy process for the selection of an IT contract will substantially inhibit such briefing in the future, particularly because discussions on these issues relate to a sensitive, or controversial issue.

These exemptions are subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide free and frank advice and views to Ministers in relation to procurement policy process and the selection of an IT contractor. It is clearly in the public interest that Ministers can properly provide sound information to Parliament (to which they are accountable), and robustly defend the Government’s policies and decisions. They need full and candid advice from officials to enable them to do so.  Premature disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, which would not be in the public interest.

Section 33(1)b 

An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of the companies involved in this procurement process, that said I have listed below the names of the companies involved in the procurement process and at what stage they were involved. Disclosing information would be likely to give these companies competitors an advantage in future similar tendering exercises, which would substantially prejudice the ability of the companies listed below to submit competitive tenders and so could significantly harm their commercial business.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of companies which tender for, or enter into, Scottish Government contracts to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money.

Companies involved in the procurement process:

Procurement process – stage

Company name

Stage 1 - Deselected

Accenture (UK) Limited

Stage 1 - Deselected

Acuvate Software

Stage 1 - Deselected

Capita Business Services Ltd

Stage 1 - Deselected

CGI

Stage 1 - Deselected

Incremental Group

Stage 1 - Deselected

LookingLocal - Kirklees Council

Stage 1 - Deselected

Sapient Ltd

Stage 1 - Deselected

Sopra Steria Ltd

Stage 1 - Deselected

Worth Internet Systems

Stage 2 – Self Deselected

BJSS Limited

Stage 2 – Self Deselected

Deloitte LLP

Stage 2 – Self Deselected

Kainos Software Ltd

Stage 2 – Deselected

PA Consulting Services Limited (UK)

Stage 2 – Selected

IBM United Kingdom Ltd

Section 36 (1) 

An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA (confidentiality in legal proceedings) applies to some of the information requested because it is legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation. The release of the content of such legal advice is likely to be appropriate only in highly compelling cases. This has been recognised by both the Scottish Information Commissioner and the courts.

Section 38(1)b 

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, e.g. names and contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

About FOI

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000 


The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 
Edinburgh 
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