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Thursday, 22 March 2012

WCA – Surreptitious gathering of information

As I’ve mentioned before, Atos (with DWP’s sanction) uses a number of heavily disguised questions to extract what they consider to be the “truth” from claimants during a WCA.   I have therefore been exploring other areas where other undeclared practices may be taking place, one of which is here.
It is about the use of Voice Risk Analysis (VRA) software, which supposedly is able to detect lies told in a phone conversation.  The innocuous name, is of course all part of the disguise.
In summary, DWP says
1)      It does not use it anywhere within DWP.  It was tested, but found to be too unreliable.  No doubt they will try again at some point.
2)      It does not require any of its business partners to use it.  As this does not mean they do not, I pursued this further with particular reference to Atos.  The response was:
3)      There is nothing in the contract prohibiting Atos from using it, nor penalising them if they do.
4)      If Atos wished to start using it, they would be obliged to seek authority from DWP (note only “obliged”).
5)      Atos could not be using it without DWP’s knowledge.
Unfortunately, because of 3), 4) & 5) presuppose complete trust in Atos to follow what looks like no more than a “gentleman’s agreement”.  Knowing what I know about them (including the way they have chosen to apply LiMA, I could not muster enough trust to disregard this possibility.  Likewise with DWP itself – I would not put it past them to say to Atos: “If you start using VRA, just don’t tell us”, the consequences of which would be:
·         No threat or risk or retribution to Atos from DWP
·         DWP can “legitimately” say ‘not to our knowledge’ whenever they are asked through FoI or any othger route.
My (slightly paranoid) advice as always would be to plan around the worst scenario – assume anything could be going on until you can categorically prove it is not.

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