The poorly redacted tender documents for the Personal Independence Payment have now been ‘disappeared’.
The PDF documents, which when converted into text files revealed a host of confidential information about successful bidders Atos, are no longer accessible via the parliament.uk website.
Luckily hundreds of people have spent the afternoon downloading and distributing the documents – a process that has been going on discreetly for almost two weeks now.
The documents were contained in the Deposited Papers Library, which is used by Ministers to make written information available to Parliament. Ministers are warned in the guidance to using the library (PDF): “Deposited Papers are made available to the general public via the Parliament website as supplied by you. You must ensure that the security of the format used reflects the sensitivity of the information contained in the documents (e.g., that redactions cannot be reversed) “
Despite this guidance, simply copying and pasting the text from the tender document into notepad revealed the redacted information.
This is not the first time that DWP documents have been altered or disappeared to cover up for blundering department officials. Earlier in the year the guidance for Work Programme contractors was abruptly changed to remove all reference to mandatory work aka workfare. This came after Chris Grayling and Iain Duncan Smith had lied through their teeth after claiming no mandatory work existed on the Work Programme.
Not for the first time, the DWP’s shabby treatment of public and internal documents has been exposed due to their inability to understand the internet. And once again they’ve done too little, too late, whilst Atos’ confidential corporate information is being distributed across the globe.
The question now is whether it was new ministers Mark Hoban or Esther McVeigh, or the inept Iain Duncan Smith himself who was to blame?
The documents can still be downloaded: