Tribunal: DWP must release Gateway contract details

The government department must give details of the contract for the Gateway, which is held by Atos Origin

The Department of Work and Pensions must release most of the details of one of the government's largest IT contracts, a tribunal has ruled.

The First-Tier Tribunal, which deals with appeals about Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, ruled on Monday that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) must reveal details of the Gateway contract, which is held by Atos Origin.

The Gateway is a website citizens can use to register for government services.

DWP must give details such as liability caps for the Gateway service and benchmarking to show that Atos is charging DWP a comparable amount compared with other customers, according to a tribunal ruling (PDF).

The government department has 28 days to respond to the decision and take the case to the Upper Tribunal, a DWP spokeswoman told ZDNet UK on Friday. DWP is considering whether to appeal.

The original FOI request was placed by developer Peter Collingbourne in 2007 to the Cabinet Office. The department declined to answer some parts of the request, prompting Collingbourne to appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). The request was passed to DWP, which decided to withhold much of the information. The ICO ordered the DWP to disclose the information, prompting the DWP to appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal on 7 April, 2010.

The ICO told ZDNet UK on Friday that The First-Tier Tribunal, also known by its old name of the Information Tribunal, had upheld the ICO's original decision.

"The Information Tribunal's ruling broadly upholds the Information Commissioner's original decision ordering the Department for Work and Pensions to release information, including some contract details, concerning the appointment of Atos Origin for the Gateway project," said the ICO in a statement. "At a time when public expenditure is under strain, the Freedom of Information Act is successfully delivering greater transparency and accountability on public spending."

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