Atos FFW recommendations overturned by DWP 10/08 – 02/11

J Newman made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

In response VTR 0192 you have provided data relating to the Atos FFW recommendations that were subsequently overturned by DWP between Oct 08 and Feb 11. It shows an alarming increase in the percentage overturned to WRAG in the latter part of 2010.

Q1: What interpretation did DWP place on this huge increase and what action did it take to address both within DWP & within Atos? This would have been recorded in meeting minutes, emails etc.

Q2: Is more recent data available to see if this trend continued? If not, when will it be?

Q3: Does DWP routinely monitor the additional FFW decision reversals made by the Tribunals service?

Q4: If so, what is the most up to date information available?

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request,

If you can tell me how late you will be, it might avoid in internal review and/or referal to ICO.

Yours sincerely,

J Newman

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

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DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman,

Please see attached response to your FoI request.

Kind regards,

DWP Central FoI Team

-----Original Message-----
From: J Newman [mailto:[FOI #106444 email]]
Sent: 18 February 2012 22:34
To: DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Atos FFW recommendations
overturned by DWP 10/08 - 02/11

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

In response VTR 0192 you have provided data relating to the Atos
FFW recommendations that were subsequently overturned by DWP
between Oct 08 and Feb 11. It shows an alarming increase in the
percentage overturned to WRAG in the latter part of 2010.

Q1: What interpretation did DWP place on this huge increase and
what action did it take to address both within DWP & within Atos?
This would have been recorded in meeting minutes, emails etc.

Q2: Is more recent data available to see if this trend continued?
If not, when will it be?

Q3: Does DWP routinely monitor the additional FFW decision
reversals made by the Tribunals service?

Q4: If so, what is the most up to date information available?

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Atos FFW recommendations overturned by DWP 10/08 – 02/11'.

I have requested very straightforward information that should be part of DWP's routine MIS. It appears only now after 4 weeks that you have discovered a particular member of staff is N/A. The fact that you need more time I am afraid is just not acceptable.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/at...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received at the DWP Central FoI Team.

We will forward your request to the relevant information owner within the
Department who will respond to you direct. 

Should you also have any further queries in connection with this request
do please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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Jim Otram left an annotation ()

31st March coming up, eh, DWP?

A H Johnson left an annotation ()

Still nothing?

J Newman left an annotation ()

Not as yet. Even Jack Straw acknowledges the tricks played to circumvent the intentions of FoI.

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman,

Please see attached response to your FoI request.

Kind regards
Central FoI Team

-----Original Message-----
From: J Newman [mailto:[FOI #106444 email]]
Sent: 18 February 2012 22:34
To: DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Atos FFW recommendations
overturned by DWP 10/08 - 02/11

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

In response VTR 0192 you have provided data relating to the Atos
FFW recommendations that were subsequently overturned by DWP
between Oct 08 and Feb 11. It shows an alarming increase in the
percentage overturned to WRAG in the latter part of 2010.

Q1: What interpretation did DWP place on this huge increase and
what action did it take to address both within DWP & within Atos?
This would have been recorded in meeting minutes, emails etc.

Q2: Is more recent data available to see if this trend continued?
If not, when will it be?

Q3: Does DWP routinely monitor the additional FFW decision
reversals made by the Tribunals service?

Q4: If so, what is the most up to date information available?

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Atos FFW recommendations overturned by DWP 10/08 – 02/11'.

Firstly, I raised this question on 18th Feb as as yet have had no acceptable explanation as to why it has taken over 3 months to respond.

Secondly, I am afraid there are a number of issues arising from your answer to question 1, that you have either not addressed or have introduced:

•In accordance with the FoI Act, I am looking for documented evidence that DWP was aware of the increase at the time – such a marked and sudden change MUST have been initiated by a specific event which you have not explained. As I have already indicated, the matter would have received attention in minutes, emails, report analyses etc.

•You have said there were a number of causes, but only mentioned one – what were the others and where is the evidence to support your suggestions – I’m afraid without evidence it is pure speculation.

•What constraints/barriers existed prior to Harrington’s report that prevented Decision Makers doing their job fully? Without some form of explanation I’m afraid your proposition is meaningless.

•What evidence do you have to support the other “improvements” you claim have been made – as Chris Grayling himself insists, hard evidence is essential for substantiation and credibility? I am particularly interested in evidence of the “improved use of the reconsideration process”.

•If what you say is true, the change highlighted the true error rate being made by Atos HCPs. What evidence do you have that this matter was addressed seriously with Atos and how can you demonstrate they have improved since?

I note finally that whilst you acknowledge that right-first-time decisions are critical, you have not set up a means to measure it, which casts considerable doubt over how important you think it really is – a high error rate does after all fuel the need for a reconsideration infrastructure, appeals processing systems etc., etc.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/at...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received at the DWP Central FoI Team.

We will forward your request to the relevant information owner within the
Department who will respond to you direct. 

Should you also have any further queries in connection with this request
do please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

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DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman,

Please see attached response to your Internal Review request.

Kind regards,

DWP Central FoI Team

From: J Newman [mailto:[FOI #106444 email]]
Sent: 19 March 2012 18:44
To: DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Atos FFW
recommendations overturned by DWP 10/08 - 02/11

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of
Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work
and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Atos FFW recommendations
overturned by DWP 10/08 - 02/11'.

I have requested very straightforward information that should be
part of DWP's routine MIS. It appears only now after 4 weeks that
you have discovered a particular member of staff is N/A. The fact
that you need more time I am afraid is just not acceptable.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is
available on the Internet at this address:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/at...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman



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Dear DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request,

As you point out there are legitimate reasons for delays and there are illegitimate reasons for delays, but we firstly need to remember the stated intentions of the FoI legislation. i.e.

• make information freely available, rather than available under duress.
• Make it available as quickly as possible and in no more than 20 days, not on day 20 every time.

By any assessment the information I requested would form part of the routine management information collated on a regular basis. The update you published on 19th March suggested this was not the case and the information was not readily available. Moreover, the excuse it makes is not acceptable within the Act.

VTR 2926-735 eventually attempted to answer the questions but contains a number of statements that are not evidenced which I pointed out in a comprehensive IRR on 28th May.

IR 162 on 26th June relates all the way back to my first IRR on 19th March and you have accepted the timescale failure, but being a bit busier than usual is not accommodated by the Act. I would point out that if questions were answered comprehensively first time round, far fewer would be recycled which would have a marked and instant impact on your workload. The problem is largely of your own making.

I am still waiting for a response to my second IRR on 28th May and I’m sure that given the spirit of the legislation I will have it in a day or two.

Yours sincerely,

J Newman

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
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Coates John DWP OPS CCSD MEDICAL SERVICES, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please find enclosed a response to your request for an Internal Review
under the Freedom of Information Act. We apologise for the delay in
providing a response to you
<<FOI 3375-IR351 Newman J Mr (WDTK).pdf>>

Kind regards

Medical Services Contract Correspondence Unit, Department for Work and
Pensions, Room 306, Block 3, Norcross, Norcross Lane, Blackpool, FY5 3TA
Tel 01253 611556, extn 69956

Please consider the environment before printing

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Atos FFW recommendations overturned by DWP 10/08 – 02/11'.

Whilst my original request was deliberately worded to comply with the stipulations & limitations of the Act, your responses do not. Although you have accepted your response was beyond the 20 day limit, you have not dealt with the following issues:

• It did not contain the documented information I requested and the Act requires you provide if indeed it exists. If it does not, you must say so.

• It includes statements relating to my request that may or may not be correct, but they are unsupported by any documented information and are therefore only the author’s opinion or interpretation.

My IRR dated 28th May explains these points in detail. Your response dated 11th July attempts to transfer the unanswered issues to a new request (VTR2601) although the Act does not allow you randomly partition requests in this manner. Even if it did, it is already 2 months old (from 28th May), so warrants yet another IRR. You will no doubt suggest that the 20 day clock did not start running until 11th July, when it actually started on 28th May.

I pointed this all out on 28th June, but after a month I have not had a response to this note either.

The end result is that my original request is still incomplete after over 5 months and as I have pointed out previously, this is routine management information.

Clearly one for the ICO.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/at...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please find attached a response to your Freedom of Information request.

<<Mr Newman VTR IR473.pdf>>

Thank you

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J Newman left an annotation ()

My understanding of FoI is that requests should be answered in full first time. We'll see what the ICO makes of this.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Atos FFW recommendations overturned by DWP 10/08 – 02/11'.

Firstly, FoI legislation does not allow organisations that are subject to it to arbitrarily hive off parts of a request into another self-generated request, simply to artificially extend allowable response times as has happened here. This “new“ request relates to either matters from the original request still not addressed or statements made in your response that are unsubstantiated and/or require clarification, neither of which are “new” issues, unless of course you are being vexatious.

Ironically however, although this “new” request was initiated 11/07, no response has yet been published after 2 months – somewhat longer than 20 days. So here we have IRR #4!!!!

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/at...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
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By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
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If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
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Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman,

Please find attached response in connection with your Freedom of
Information request.

<<FOI 3550-2445 Newman J (WDTK) Response.pdf>>
Thank you

Correspondence Team
DWP Medical Services Contracts Correspondence Team | Department for Work
and Pensions | DWP Contracted Customer Services Directorate | 306, Block 3
| North Fylde Central Office | Norcross | FY5 3TA| Tel: 01253 611537 | 
[1]www.dwp.gov.uk | Please consider the environment before printing

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews and with respect, someone who fully understands FoI legislation :

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Atos FFW recommendations overturned by DWP 10/08 – 02/11'.

In relation to the time it has taken to address this request, I would point out that:

• With well over 100,000 employees it is hard to believe that there is only one who is familiar with the information relevant to this request. This explains a lot if so few people understand routine MIS.

• The FoI legislation (rightly) requires organisations to manage staff resources effectively to meet its demands. There is no provision for extra time based on absenteeism or “non-availability”.

• There is a suggestion that the question is complicated (hence the delay), but in fact it is about routine management information. If it is not readily available, it is not being properly managed. This too would explain a lot.

• Oddly, it was not until day 20 (19th March) that anyone realised that the deadline would be missed – not by a day or two, but by TWO WEEKS. With so much work outstanding, you would have thought someone would have recognised the problem at least a week if not two earlier.

• A response was promised for 31st March, but not provided until 18th May 6 WEEKS LATER without any explanation or apology in the interim. It is surprising that DWP did not collapse completely with such a vital member of staff out of circulation for so long.

I do not particularly require a response to the above, but by all means comment if you wish. You will no doubt dismiss the facts as opinion again.

As regards the other points I raised on 28th May which are the subject of this IRR:

Points 1) & 2): I specifically requested recorded information to support your suggestions. If you do not have any, please say so. Without it, your statements can only be regarded as speculation as there are other equally plausible explanations.

Point 3: Your previous response on 18/05 stated that implementation of the Harrington recommendations “empowered” DMs, which means that a previous constraint was removed and my question was to identify what it was. You are now saying there were no constraints, so what actually changed? The two responses are completely contradictory.

Point 4: The fact that the Wrexham trial was such a stunning success and that the benefits so greatly outweighed the costs that not even a cursory justification was deemed necessary is something worth pursuing on another occasion.

Point 5: Firstly, “overturn” = to reverse a previous decision. Your data table headers are therefore wrong; a recommendation can be ignored, but cannot be overturned. Clearly therefore even you regard the Atos “output” as tantamount to a decision regardless of the alternative propositions you circulate.

The “additional” information available to a DM used to account for the high levels of reversal is a myth and proven by the Tribunal Service’s own analysis, which confirms that this is rarely the case – with the vast majority of appeals, the TS has no more information than the HCP had originally. If a piece of evidence is so substantial that its absence caused the HCP to conclude wrongly, it begs the question as to why it was not available previously. Moreover, it is absolutely critical that the HCP has ALL of the information available to correctly construct the WCA (as explained in the WCA manual) to produce the correct outcome and if this is not working, clearly much more effort is needed to make sure it does. Process remedy is not unlike medical remedy – always better the treat the cause rather than the symptoms.

Clearly it is in everyone’s interests that Atos conclusions are correct and the increase in these statistics shows beyond doubt that they were not as correct as previously thought – the issue was (on your own admission) that DMs did not challenge them as they should have done. Once this came to light, it was obviously important to ensure that the Atos procedures were amended to reinstate an acceptable error rate.

My Q5 is specifically about what was done in this area – if the answer is “nothing” please say so or produce the evidence to prove something was done – again one would expect some form of record in meeting minutes, emails etc.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/at...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please see your FOI response attached

Kind regards

Health & Disability Assessments (Operations)/Department for Work and Pensions/Room 306/Block 31/Norcross/Norcross Lane/Blackpool/FY5 3TA

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Dear DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence,

At last after almost 12 months, complete acceptance that the initial request and no less than 4 IRRs where all badly handled, but I am still left wondering why - was it just me or was everyone making requests affected equally?

Your breakdown misses the fact that on 19/03 you promised a response by 31/03 which arrived 18/05 without a word of explanation between the dates. Being late is bad enough, but breaking a specific promise is somewhat worse.

To empower is to give somebody power or authority and empowering DM’s has been hailed as a major step forward. This of course means they were not empowered (at least to the same degree) previously and my request was attempting to discover what PRECISELY had changed; what precisely do they now have more of and how does that reflect itself in what they do day to day.

The latest response represents semantics in the extreme. Ironically in objecting to my wording it confirms that whilst DMs may FEEL more empowered, in reality they are not. The only possible conclusion therefore is that nothing has really changed and this yet another part of the illusion – make impressive sounding statements that imply progress but have no tangible effects.

Returning to the original (12 month old) issue of how DWP reacted to the marked change, the answer confirmed here is that it did not in any way address the problem with Atos. Thankfully the Audit Commission has recently highlighted how poorly the Atos contract is managed which can only result in huge distress to claimants and unnecessary cost.

Yours sincerely,

J Newman

J Newman left an annotation ()

I will summarise for anyone travelling this way:

As regards FoI Act compliance, DWP failed abysmally not just with the original request, but with no less than 4 subsequent requests for Internal Review. In total close to a year has passed and in the end DWP has had to admit that is does not have some of the information requested despite initially pretending it did. This is at best an attempt to conceal considerable embarrassment, at worst a deliberate deception & misrepresentation.

It is quite clear that some of the statements made here may be an intention but are most certainly unsupportable and unevidenced, so cannot be regarded as reliable – but they do sound impressive!

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