MoJ's interpreter management ''appalling'' - Public Service | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
The Ministry of Justice gave a £90m contract to a company that was out of its depth, says the NAO...

The Ministry of Justice's (MoJ) decision to award its £90m language services contract to a company that was out of its depth – and then not monitor this properly – has been described as "appalling".

In August 2011, the MoJ signed a five-year contract with Applied Language Solutions (ALS) – bought by Capita later that year – for interpretation and translation services. But the company immediately faced "operational difficulties".

So the National Audit Office (NAO) looked into the matter and concluded that while the old system was certainly inadequate in several respects, the MoJ's due diligence on ALS's bid was not thorough enough. Also, the ministry didn't give enough weight to the concerns and dissatisfaction that many interpreters had expressed.

What's more, the MoJ underestimated the project risks when it decided to switch from a regional to a national rollout, allowed the contract to become fully operational before it was ready (ALS had not recruited and assessed enough interpreters), and there were key contractual obligations that ALS didn't comply with (and the company didn't tell the ministry until the NAO discovered them.

On the operation of the contract, initially ALS's performance was "wholly inadequate", the NAO said, leading to missed performance targets and around a fifth of the interpretation work in courts and tribunals being done under old arrangements.