Blurred by media discussion on the DWP Work Programme and the Leveson Report, November also saw the release of the Harrington Report on Year 3 of the Work Capability Assessment. SCM features.
You may be familiar with the WCA and the furore over Atos sponsorship of both the Paralympics and Glasgow 2014. Atos are the public facing part of the DWP Work Capability Assessments. Atos are the perceived 'bad guys' who say whether disabled are fit to work and therefore should lose their benefits. Atos get the blame. It is on 'profits at the expense of disabled' cry that they are not deemed a suitable sponsor.
Therefore, Atos are a contractor who is 'perceived' to hold the power of 'yay' or 'nay' for benefits. To the claimant Atos are not only DWP's representative on earth, they may as well be the DWP. Perceived poor Atos performance reflects not only on DWP but on the Government's welfare reforms. That's where the supply chain meets the customer (in this case the claimant). But upstream are the actual decision makers. Atos are caught in the middle. Given that key role in a supply chain one would expect to see very tight contract management and client led performance management.
Yet Harrington's view is that:
The variability in the quality of Atos performance was a frequent complaint received from Decision Makers during the Review’s unannounced visits. In line with the National Audit Office report, DWP needs to monitor Atos more closely to ensure performance is as strong as possible because the face-to-face part of the assessment is, disappointingly, still often seen by claimants as the only important part of the WCA.We have recently discussed design in public services, while the current system falls short of what claimants would consider participatory design, there is a clear need to recognise that consistent, to time and quality, Atos performance, both upstream and downstream is crucial. Supply chain management, contract management and supply risk management, meet and impact on peoples lives.
Harrington, someone who appears to be highly regarded has now delivered his last review. Let's hope his successor does not have to make a similar observation next year!