UK Denies Atos Charges in Microsoft’s $1.2B Weather Supercomputer Contract Win

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In the aftermath of Microsoft’s win of a mammoth, £854 million ($1.2 billion) weather supercomputing contract from the British government, the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is fending off a lawsuit by Atos, which lost its bid, charging the government with “breaching public law duties,” according to a report in the legal publication Law360UK.

The BEIS secretary and the UK Meteorological Office have denied the allegations leveled by Atos IT Services UK Ltd in a defense dated March 3 and made public this week, according to the report. Last month, soon after Microsoft was declared the contract winner, Atos filed suit declaring it was unfairly excluded from the bidding process.

BEIS argued that “that the High Court could intervene and set aside the contract decision only if there was a ‘manifest error’ in the judging process, which the government said there was not…,” Law360UK reported. “Atos IT Services scored higher than Microsoft in some areas, but these were ‘notional’ because the final tender bid submitted by the British company had to be excluded because it did not meet all the requirements. The Met Office said it could not accept a bid that had scored zero on some of the questions.”

The government is quoted saying that “in awarding the contract to Microsoft, [they] awarded it to the bidder submitting the most economically advantageous tender.”

But Atos argued that while it scored poorly on evaluation of its processors, hardware specifications were not stated  in the tender documents. “The company says that general principles of procurement law have been breached because the goalposts were moved,” Law360UK reported. “Atos added that its bid was excluded on the basis of undisclosed requirements and that the Met Office made ‘obvious errors in the evaluation.’”