US firm heads up UK census deal
A consortium led by US vendor Lockheed Martin has won £150 million contract from the UK Office for National Statistics to support the 2011 census in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The consortium, which includes Broadcasting Support Services, Cable & Wireless, Logica, Oracle, Polestar Group, Royal Mail, Steria, and UK Data Capture, will work with the ONS and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency to design, install, and support the information-processing system, which will enable census questionnaires to be completed via the internet for the first time in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Any US-based company is subject to the US Patriot Act, which allows the US government to gain access to any data within the company’s possession. Campaigners have warned this could give the US government access to data on the UK’s entire population.
The Office for National Statistics, which awarded the contract, said Lockheed Martin would co-ordinate other UK and European companies so that “no US companies or Lockheed Martin employees will have access to the personal data”. Glen Watson, ONS census director, said: “ONS takes data security and the confidentiality of personal information extremely seriously. Awarding this contract is an important step towards a successful 2011 Census that will provide valuable information to help shape future plans for England and Wales.”
Ian Stopps, chief executive at Lockheed Martin UK, said: “We are proud to again support ONS in conducting its census. We are committed to delivering a system to efficiently and effectively perform the 2011 Census while ensuring all information remains secure and confidential.”
In 2005, the US Bureau of Census awarded a six-year $500 million contract to a team led by Lockheed Martin to develop a similar system for the 2010 US Census after it provided similar systems for the 2000 US Census, 2001 UK Census, and 2006 Canada Census.