Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Those two new contracts

The Mail has reacted to the news of the two prison education contracts awarded to A4e ("worth up to £30m") with its usual stridency.  How can they do that when the company is being investigated for fraud and the DWP has launched its own enquiry?  They choose to ignore the SFA's decision to conduct an audit before the contracts are finalised.  But I suppose that would complicate the story.  The decision has "provoked anger"; from Margaret Hodge, who said it was astounding, and from an unnamed, and possibly apocryphal, rival bidder who said: "It seems deeply ironic that offenders are to be given lessons in getting back on the straight and narrow by a firm that is being investigated for fraud."
The article doesn't go into how any government department or agency could legally block A4e from getting contracts at this stage.  The bids for OLASS went in and were accepted before the storm broke.  The procurement process, ridiculously, doesn't allow a company's past record to be taken into account.  The only way A4e, or any company, could be barred would be if "systemic" fraud was found - and most of us are agreed that it won't be.  
PS.  Yesterday, we read on the TheyWorkForYou website, an MP, Andy Slaughter, asked the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills " whether the tendering process for the OLASS4 contract was undertaken while A4e were under investigation by (a) the Department of Work and Pensions, (b) the Serious Fraud Office, (c) the police and (d) other public bodies."  John Hayes MP replied: "Under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, decisions about the awarding of contracts are for the chief executive of Skills Funding to make.  In respect of the OLASS4 procurement process, the chief executive is undertaking a procurement process in line with the EU Procurement and EU Remedies Directives. That process is still under way and will not conclude until May 2012 at the earliest.  As part of this procurement, the chief executive of Skills Funding has made clear to A4e that he must have the results of the independent review of audit and control procedures A4e is undertaking into its own operations, and the results of the Department for Work and Pensions' investigation, before any formal contract with A4e is entered into." 


  1. This is dreadful. David Cameron's credibility as Prime Minister is rapidly eroding, if that's any consolation.

  2. This is ludicrous, although it seems a good number of A4e staff have the qualifications to work with prisoners....allegedly.... I'm sure they will be able to teach them a thing or two ;)

    1. When it first got the prison contracts A4e took over the qualified staff who had been doing the job. I assume they are still using qualified staff.

  3. A4E did take over qualified staff, many have left, where i work they often have staff teaching who have no experience in the subject at all, it is all about ticking boxes, they even have team teaching, two teachers teaching very small classes,A4E internal investigations are worth nothing.


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