BT fined £1.3 million after staff admit phoning each other to meet targets. BT has been forced to pay £1.3 million compensation to the Ministry of Defence after staff phoned each other to meet call-answering targets.
They manipulated the figures to help BT avoid fines for not answering calls quickly enough as part of their deal to operate the telephone system for the armed forces – which sees them provide service to more than 200,000 personnel.
The scam was exposed by public spending watchdog the National Audit Office, which said it showed the need for better monitoring of the way such projects are being run.
BT sacked the small number of staff involved, while the call centre in Kettering, Northamptonshire, is now no longer in operation.
Tory MP Edward Leigh, who chairs the Commons public accounts committee, said: “It says a lot about the MoD’s oversight of its contractors that the Department’s systems failed to spot a serious fraud.
“BT staff working on the MoD’s PFI telecoms project actually plotted to phone each other in order to beef up their performance statistics for answering calls.
“It was only later that the Department found out it was £1.3 million out of pocket and had to recover this from BT. A real-life Whitehall farce.”
Tim Burr, head of the National Audit Office, said today: “Most of the private finance projects in its portfolio of more than 50 have been delivered successfully by the Ministry of Defence.
“But the Department needs to be more alert to the risks that can emerge once the project is up and running, such as inaccurate performance reporting.”
First awarded to BT in 1997, the Defence Fixed Telecommunications System contract was, in 2005, extended by five years to July 2012.
An MoD spokesman said: “In this incident BT call centre staff artificially inflated call numbers in order to meet targets for successfully completed calls.
“On discovery, a full investigation was carried out by the MoD Police and BT and no criminal charges are planned. “MoD commissioned an independent review to establish the degree of financial loss.
“A settlement of £1.3 million has been agreed with BT, which includes recovery of the independent assessor costs.”