UK government forced to pay Atos £24mn over Met Office supercomputer procurement.
Le groupe français a porté plainte sur le fait que les règles de l’appel d’offre n’avaient pas été respectées.
The UK government was forced to pay out £24mn to Atos in an out-of-court settlement after the French IT group challenged the award of an £850mn contract to develop a supercomputer for forecasting weather and climate change to US rival Microsoft.
The French company, which was the only other shortlisted bidder, filed a lawsuit in May last year alleging breaches in the government’s obligations under the public procurement regulations but it was settled before it went to court.
The new supercomputer, which will be managed by the Met Office, is expected to be one of the most advanced in the world for weather prediction and climate change analysis. The cost of the overall project is put at £1.2bn.
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed at the time but the latest annual report of the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy reveals there was a payout of £24mn to Atos without an admission of liability.
The opposition Labour party accused the government of wasting taxpayers’ money. “This is yet another example of the Conservatives failing to take care of public money. While families are counting every penny, the Tories are shelling out taxpayers’ cash to pay for their own mistakes,” said Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader.
The government said: “The proceedings regarding supercomputer procurement have been resolved with no admission of liability from any party. This settlement is in the best interest of taxpayers.”
It added that an “independent review has assured that all procurement processes were followed and there were no failures associated with governance or lack of controls”.
In its lawsuit, Atos alleged the procurement process was not managed properly after its tender was non-compliant with technical specifications. The dispute centred on requirements to supply two test supercomputers and a development supercomputer in addition to the main supercomputer system, where the systems were all required to be “architecturally equivalent”.
Atos alleged that the government rejected its bid as “non compliant” on the basis that its proposal for a smaller development computer system used different processors in the main supercomputer, according to court documents.
The company claimed that the government made “obvious errors in the evaluation” of the bid and that the “Met Office has chosen a final tender which scored lower in quality, transferred more commercial risk to the Met Office and is more expensive”.
The Met Office and BEIS denied the allegations, and alleged that Atos proposed a non-compliant solution and that its offer was not “the most economically advantageous”.
Atos said in a statement that it was “pleased to have resolved this matter”.
The new computer is expected to be in the top 25 supercomputers in the world and will be used to more accurately predict storms as well as help select the most suitable locations for flood defences and predict changes to the global climate.
The new supercomputer will also provide detailed information for the energy sector to help it take action against potential blackouts and power surges.