Defence contractor BAE awarded £4.3m deal to support Test and Trace data processing

Company’s Applied Intelligence tech consulting unit wins six-month contract

Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images

Defence contractor BAE Systems has been awarded a £4.3m six-month contract to support the data architecture and processing activities of the NHS Test and Trace programme.

Newly published procurement documents reveal that BAE’s Applied Intelligence technology consulting unit signed a contract on 27 August to provide the Department of Health and Social Care with “Test and Trace data platform support”. The deal runs until 31 March 2021.

The contract comes on top of a near-£1m deal in which, from May to August, the company provided the Test and Trace programme with “professional services”. A similar engagement, running from June to December, will be worth £260,000 to the defence specialist – taking the overall value of its Test and Trace contracts to at least £5.5m.

The data platform support deal sees BAE tasked with offering a range of services, including “onboarding of data sets across the programme… and any other data sets… as required by the programme of the Joint Biosecurity Centre”.

The contract also covers “development of the tooling to support the platform [such as] Plotly, PowerBI and Tableau”, as well as “enhancement of data processing and cleansing based on feedback” and “maturing of support processes and service management”. Assisting in the “development of new features” of Test and Trace will also form part of the defence firm’s remit.

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In delivering these objectives, BAE will provide the scheme with “subject-matter experts in the support of the programme data management and architecture team in the identification, assessment, reporting and resolution of data issues”.

The supplier will handle a comprehensive range of citizen personal data, including names, contact details, information on gender, sex and ethnicity, as well as occupation and employment information. Data being processed will also include information on symptoms, test results, and contact-tracing.

“Data subjects can include any member of the population… included within the scope of the programme,” the contract said.

It added that BAE will “only process… personal data for the purpose and in the manner set out” in the terms stipulated.

“For additional clarity… the supplier will specifically not: access raw data within operational source systems… [or] perform operational data analysis or interpret the data for the operation of the programme and the UK’s Covid-19 response,” it said.

The £4.315m cost of the deal – which was awarded as a call-off contract via the G-Cloud 11 framework – will be paid to BAE in monthly instalments. Work will primarily take place at DHSC headquarters in central London.

The terms of the contract required all bids to pre-emptively include an “exit plan [that] clearly sets out the supplier’s methodology for achieving an orderly transition of services” to either another supplier or to the department directly.

The DHSC has faced criticism over how much the Test and Trace scheme has relied on outsourcers – primarily Serco – particularly given the performance issues it has encountered. Problems with the programme have included a success rate in reaching contacts that has sometimes struggled to reach 75%, and the temporary loss of information on 16,000 coronavirus cases as a result of using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that were not equipped for the task. 


Sam Trendall

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