ATOS use PR business to “monitor websites and social media” “for mentions of Atos and disability assessments”
I’ve been reading through the Department for Work and Pensions contract with Atos IT Services UK Ltd (who trade under the name Independent Assessment Services (IAS)) which is a contract for PIP assessments in Northern England and Scotland. However in the area I live (Birkenhead) the PIP assessments are sub-contracted to an organisation called TICCS.
Atos’s responses to the Invitation to Tender has parts which surprise me, which I will quote from here (along with the question that the quote is a response to):
“[3.6] Please describe your understanding of dealing with and engaging with challenging high profile stakeholders including the media; parliamentarians; external organisations such as welfare rights and medical organisations (GMC) and MP questions. Within your response you must describe how you will deal with these stakeholders during implementation and full contract delivery, to deliver a PIP Assessment Service which is coherent and integrated with the Authority objectives and how you will deal with official enquiries originating from any of these groups. Your response should address challenges identified within the service requirements plus any additional challenges you have identified which would impact PIP Assessment Service delivery.
Present your response at the top of a new page, within these preset margins in Arial font size 12 up to 1 sides of A4 including the question text and these instructions.
Atos’ understand of dealing with challenging high profile stakeholders is that we will need to be highly responsive, in terms of speed of response – to deliver the information for Official Correspondence, Parliamentary Questions and responding to complaints to both the complainant and the Authority within the required timescale; accuracy of information given, accessibility of our organisation to engage; and, the need at all times to be integrated with the Authority’s objectives and coherent in the narrative.
Good stakeholder engagement will be critical during the implementation of PIP to gain their understanding and support. The advent of social media means that individuals and representative organisations expect a two way dialogue with government and with service providers. Atos objective during implementation is to establish open and creative dialogue alongside innovative partnerships with credible organisations. We currently proactively monitor websites and social media using the expertise of our suppliers Big Mouth Media for mentions of Atos and disability assessments, and we will extend this during PIP. These on-line services are an opportunity for local and national engagement with the Atos team, and for the general public to draw areas of concern to our attention.
Atos has employed Public Affairs specialist Interel Consulting to help identify the key PIP stakeholders both nationally and locally. For external organisations such as National Claimant Representative Groups (CRGs) and medical organisations, we already engage with many national organisations and regularly meet with representatives at a local level to explain our role and discuss their concerns. We currently have a database of more than 300 local CRGs for outbound communications. Our relationship with the GMC and other key medical bodies is managed by our Chief Medical Director. We are currently working very closely with the GMC in relation to the forthcoming revalidation legislation, identifying the potential implications and helping to ensure it would apply appropriately in a disability analysis context.
Relationships with MPs, MSPs and AMs will be handled by our Public Relations Manager, who will liaise closely with the Authority. During implementation, we will arrange site visits for local elected representatives. We will also provide “walk in” sessions in Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff and Stormont. This ‘self service’ mechanism is effective for busy MPs, MSPs and AMs who value access to service providers, but are often unable to commit to off-site cisits. They provide an opportunity to create accurate perceptions and build relationships, demonstrating the scale and professionalism of the serivce. For official enquiries, our Public Relations Manager will forward enquiries to the Authority within 2 working days, and work together with the Authority to provide any requested information to assist in replying, to Official correspondence; Ministerial correspondence; Ministeral briefing; Parliamentary questions; Freedom of Information requests; Subject Access requests in the timescales required. All press enquiries will be handled through our Press Office, who will liaise weekly or more often when required with the Authority’s Press Office and will agree lines to take in advance.”
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