HMRC awarded Fujitsu £1.4bn in new contracts after historic 2019 Post Office court case

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HM Revenue & Customs awarded Fujitsu £1.4 billion in contracts after a landmark 2019 court case exposed the Post Office Horizon scandal, according to new data obtained by MPs.

The data sheds new light on the extent of the company’s dealings with the government after flaws in its systems were widely publicized.

The £1.4 billion figure was included in data published by the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee on Saturday, which showed three Treasury-linked entities had active contracts with Fujitsu worth £3.4 billion pounds from the 2019 court ruling.

HMRC accounted for the lion’s share of the total, along with smaller amounts for the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England.

The committee of MPs wrote last month to the Treasury and public bodies linked to the department to request details of their contracts with Fujitsu. Their investigations came after the Financial Times reported that Fujitsu had signed joint and individual contracts worth £4.9 billion since its role in the Horizon scandal was laid bare in a court ruling in 2019.

At the time the High Court found there was a “material risk” that “bugs, errors and defects” in the company’s Horizon IT system were responsible for prosecutions of hundreds of sub-postmasters on charges including fraud and false accounting .

HMRC’s £1.4 billion figure is almost double the amount previously disclosed according to research conducted by Chris Smith, an independent procurement consultant, using data from Contracts Finder, a website run by the Cabinet Office which publishes details of all government contracts worth over £12,000. .

Contracts Finder lists just £752m of contracts awarded by HMRC to Fujitsu, Smith said.

Smith said the discrepancy reflects broader shortcomings by government departments and agencies. “What [HMRC has] reported is inaccurate. . . these figures [on Contract Finder] it should be accurate,” he said.

Harriett Baldwin, chair of the Treasury select committee, said discrepancies in the data showed Fujitsu’s contracts were more extensive than the Cabinet Office database suggested.

“We have uncovered some information which, I believe, goes beyond what is known to the Cabinet Office. I hope this promotes transparency and control over Fujitsu’s role as a public sector supplier,” she said.

The Select Committee’s data included data from multiple master agreements, a type of supplier contract that does not require the government to procure the full amount of quoted services.

Mike Bracken, former head of the Government Digital Service, said the committee’s findings highlighted a culture in government of awarding large IT contracts to a single vendor. He said this approach makes it harder for departments to extricate themselves when a vendor fails to deliver.

“The government needs a broader supply chain for all services. The way to do this is to have open competition rather than large single contracts,” she said.

According to a former senior HMRC official, Fujitsu provides the backbone of much of the tax authority’s digital services.

Last month it said it would suspend bidding on government contracts pending the outcome of a public inquiry into the Horizon scandal.

According to Contract Finder, since the start of 2020, HMRC has awarded a total of £4.25 billion in public procurement, including contracts with Fujitsu.

HMRC said it worked with “hundreds of IT partners” and that several partners were involved in setting up and maintaining its services.

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