Covid response policy unit extends data science support in £500k deal

Joint Biosecurity Centre renews engagement with Accenture

Credit: Octus Technology/CC BY-SA 4.0    Image has been cropped

The government’s Covid response guidance unit has spent half a million pounds to retain the services of an external team of data scientists.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre has signed a six-month extension to an ongoing engagement with Accenture. The deal, worth £458,350, will see the IT services giant “provide technical data consultancy services to the JBC’s data and data science service in terms of scalability, design and technical approach”.

This will include providing professional data architects and engineers who will support the pandemic response unit “in the enhancement and/or refactoring of existing data services, focusing on improving quality and reusability”.

Over the course of the contract, which came into effect on 1 October, Accenture will also be tasked with providing “expert input to the JBC data and data science operating model design, covering data development processes, agile upskilling, technology stack, data set onboarding, ongoing recruitment, and data governance”.

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The contract added: “The resources will strengthen the development of a resilient data infrastructure to support the pandemic response.”

The engagement, which runs until 31 March 2022, is the fourth such deal awarded consecutively to the consultancy firm.  

On 3 September 2020, the JBC initially signed Accenture to provide three months of data-science support, at a cost of £1.13m. Subsequent extensions of four and six months have respectively been worth £550,520 and £690,593 to the New York-listed company.

Total spending on the contracts is £2.82m – out of a total of £35m spent across 30 deals related to the NHS Test and Trace scheme that have been awarded to Accenture, one of the programme’s biggest suppliers.

The firm, which broke the $50bn annual revenue barrier in its recently concluded fiscal year, has offices in 50 countries around the world; about a third of the outsourcer’s 600,000-plus workforce is based in India, with a further 50,000 in the Philippines.

Since 2009, its corporate headquarters has been located in Dublin. The firm was previously incorporated in Bermuda.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre was established by the government in the early weeks of the coronavirus with a remit to “provide evidence-based, objective analysis, assessment and advice to inform local and national decision-making in response to Covid-19 outbreaks”.

Its work has formed part of the wider Test and Trace programme which, since 1 October, has been incorporated into the newly formed UK Health Security Agency, which replaces Public Health England.


Sam Trendall

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