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22 November 2017

FOI reveals Transport for London repeatedly renewed £2m consultancy contract over 7 years without getting rival bids

Transport for London has defended the repeated extension of a consultancy contract worth almost £2m over a seven year period without asking rivals to tender for the work.

In October 2010 the capital’s transport agency hired the contractor to provide a staff member who would “assist the TfL senior leadership team” during their work on the Horizon programme which was tasked to slash costs in TfL’s support functions. 

The initial contract was worth £122,980 and covered “targeted senior executive leadership facilitation, support and coaching for the TfL leadership team, including the Commissioner and the Chief Officers.”

TfL says the work was awarded following “a search of the market,” however the relationship has been extended several times over the following seven years, each time without alternative suppliers being asked to tender. 

Each of the renewals was approved following the production of a ‘single source request’ document which self-exempts public bodies from tendering contracts.

The first extension came in February 2011, just 4 months after the initial agreement was signed, with further extensions in August and October of the same year.

The document approving the second extension justifies the failure to openly tender the work on the grounds that other suppliers “would not have the existing knowledge of TfL, the Horizon programme, the expertise and familiarity or trusting relationship with the individual Directors in the Leadership team.”

In August 2012 an uncontested extension worth £250,000 was approved on the grounds that “a decision to put this activity out for tender would inevitably have postponed the delivery of Project Horizon”.

The document added that proceeding without the support of an external contractor “would have meant progressing Project Horizon without effectively organising or coordinating Chief Officer input, leading to a sub-optimal conclusion and/or delay to the project.”

Eleven months later TfL justified a decision not to put a further extension, worth £162,000, out to tender “as it may result in a loss of continuity in the development of individuals”.

The relevant approval document also states that the additional work being approved was “needed to provide the continuous support that is required by the Commissioner.”

An extension worth £175,500 was signed off in October 2014 to allow the contractor “to assist the Commissioner direct and develop an effective TfL leadership team and to support the team so that he can lead TfL effectively.”

It also justified the decision not to tender the work on the grounds that “it may result in a loss of continuity in the development of individuals”.

Further extensions followed July 2015, March 2016, October 2016, March 2017 and, most recently, in October 2017.

A freedom of information request shows that over the seven year period to October 2017 the contractor was paid £1.74m. The latest extension is worth a further £210,000.

The services provided span the terms of former TfL Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy and successor Mike Brown. TfL’s top post comes with a salary in excess of £300,000 and a host of in-house support staff. 

Defending the consultancy contract, a TfL spokesperson said the contractor in question “has provided advice and support to the TfL leadership team for a number of major organisational change programmes to deliver a range of improvements and significant financial savings.  

“The current programme is delivering £4bn of savings to 2021/22, reducing our operating costs for the first time in our history.”   

However Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said the agency’s decision to repeatedly roll over the contract uncontested “for so many years raises some fundamental questions about TfL’s transparency, let alone its commitment to value for money.” 

She added: “Contracts such as this should be open for examination and regularly put out to tender.”

The most recent renewals appear to undermine efforts by Mayor Sadiq Khan to slash costs within TfL in order to help fund his freeze fares and meet the challenges posed by the axing of TfL’s Government grants.

Last year Mr Khan ordered the agency to carry out “a fundamental review” of management layers, renegotiate all contracts, freeze recruitment “for all but the most essential roles” while “significantly cutting the most expensive of the existing circa 3,000 agency contractors.”

Commenting on the FOI’s revelations, Labour AM Tom Copley said: “We’ve had a commitment from the Mayor to reducing consultancy costs, TfL must now follow through. 

“At a time when TfL are having to tighten their purse strings because the government are removing their operational grant, it begs the question whether this is value for money.”

Source :

from Taxi Leaks

Institute Of Licensing Writes To Government To Highlight Failure In Taxi And PH Licensing System

The Institute of Licensing (IoL) has written to the Government to raise concerns about failings in the taxi and private hire licensing system that is putting public safety at risk.

IoL President, James Button, said in the letter: 
“We are aware that there is currently much discussion ongoing in relation to the licensing of taxi and private hire drivers, operators and vehicle owners, including the recently established working party by Minister of State John Hayes MP. 

We are conscious that any discussions must seriously consider the adequacies of current arrangements concerning criminality checks, data sharing and ability of licensing authorities and police practitioners to identify concerns relating to licensed individuals and those seeking to be licensed with a view to maintaining public safety and taking appropriate action as necessary.”

The letter addressed to the Home Office, DfT, National Police Chiefs Council and the chairman of the newly established Taxi and Private Hire Working Group, outlined the result of its member’s survey about the level of checks undertaken, data sharing with the police and other similar issues:
• Less than 25% of respondents consider the current data sharing arrangements are satisfactory

• More than 50% of respondents agreed that changes to the Notifiable Occupations Scheme affected information sharing between police and licensing authorities

• 72% of respondents said that do not receive immediate notifications from the police when a taxi licensee (driver, operator or proprietor) is under investigation, arrested or charged

• 42% of respondents said that the Data Protection Act used as a reason for not sharing information

• A substantial 80% of respondents agreed it would useful would it be to have a single point of contact within the police for taxi licensing issues
Mr Button continued: “The IoL has raised concerns previously with the Home Office in relation to data sharing between police and licensing authorities in relation to taxis. 

In March 2015, we put on record with the Home Office our concern over the then imminent changes to the Notifiable Occupations Scheme and the proposed removal of Home Office Circular 006/2006 which provided guidance to police forces about the disclosure of convictions and other information in relation to people in professions or occupations which carry additional trust or responsibility (notifiable occupations). 

In summary, the concern at that point was that the changes would increase uncertainty and inconsistency in data sharing.”

The IoL is currently leading on a project to develop a national model convictions policy for licensing authorities to consider adopting locally. It has been working with the Local Government Association and the National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers on the project and the aim is to consult on the draft document imminently. 

This project has been undertaken with the sole purpose of providing a potential national minimum standard endorsed by the relevant organisations with a view to raising consistency across England and Wales.

Meanwhile, in London, TfL are still allowing 10,000 Uber drivers with alleged fake DBS certificates to carry on working, even in the light of an escalation in PH passenger sexual assaults (highest total for 15 years) 

Not only that, 5 Uber drivers convicted of fraud have been allowed to carry on as PH drivers even after being given suspended prison sentences.
TfL have refused to relicense Uber as a PH operator, but allow them to continue for the next few years while they appeal, even though they have been flagged up as a not fit and proper company. 
Can you see the pattern emerging here?

And yet a Licensed Taxi Driver who video’d a group of TfL directors in a public Street has had his licence revoked and been out of work for nearly a year. 

from Taxi Leaks

21 November 2017

Uber Concealed Cyberattack That Exposed 57 Million People’s Data

Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc., a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing company ousted Joe Sullivan, chief security officer, and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps.

Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world, the company told Bloomberg on Tuesday. The personal information of about 7 million drivers were accessed as well, including some 600,000 U.S. driver’s license numbers. No Social Security numbers, credit card details, trip location info or other data were taken, Uber said.

“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it.”

At the time of the incident, Uber was negotiating with U.S. regulators investigating separate claims of privacy violations. Uber now says it had a legal obligation to report the hack to regulators and to drivers whose license numbers were taken. Instead, the company paid hackers $100,000 to delete the data and keep the breach quiet. Uber said it believes the information was never used but declined to disclose the identities of the attackers.

“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as chief executive officer in September, said in an emailed statement. “We are changing the way we do business.”

Read more: Uber Pushed the Limits of the Law. Now Comes the Reckoning

Hackers have successfully infiltrated numerous companies in recent years. The Uber breach, while large, is dwarfed by those at Yahoo, MySpace, Target Corp., Anthem Inc.and Equifax Inc. What’s more alarming are the extreme measures Uber took to hide the attack. The breach is the latest explosive scandal Khosrowshahi inherits from his predecessor, Travis Kalanick.

Kalanick, Uber’s co-founder and former CEO, learned of the hack in November 2016, a month after it took place, the company said. Uber had just settled a lawsuit with the New York attorney general over data security disclosures and was in the process of negotiating with the Federal Trade Commission over the handling of consumer data. Kalanick declined to comment on the hack.

Sullivan spearheaded the response to the hack last year, a spokesman told Bloomberg. Sullivan, a onetime federal prosecutor who joined Uber in 2015 from Facebook Inc., has been at the center of much of the decision-making that has come back to bite Uber this year. Bloomberg reported last month that the board commissioned an investigation into the activities of Sullivan’s security team. This project, conducted by an outside law firm, discovered the hack and the failure to disclose, Uber said.

Here’s how the hack went down: 

Two attackers accessed a private GitHub coding site used by Uber software engineers and then used login credentials they obtained there to access data stored on an Amazon Web Services account that handled computing tasks for the company. From there, the hackers discovered an archive of rider and driver information. Later, they emailed Uber asking for money, according to the company.

A patchwork of state and federal laws require companies to alert people and government agencies when sensitive data breaches occur. Uber said it was obligated to report the hack of driver’s license information and failed to do so.

“At the time of the incident, we took immediate steps to secure the data and shut down further unauthorized access by the individuals,” Khosrowshahi said. “We also implemented security measures to restrict access to and strengthen controls on our cloud-based storage accounts.”

Uber has earned a reputation for flouting regulations in areas where it has operated since its founding in 2009. The U.S. has opened at least five criminal probes into possible bribes, illicit software, questionable pricing schemes and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property, people familiar with the matters have said. The San Francisco-based company also faces dozens of civil suits. London and other governments have taken steps toward banning the service, citing what they say is reckless behavior by Uber.

In January 2016, the New York attorney general fined Uber $20,000 for failing to promptly disclose an earlier data breach in 2014. After last year’s cyberattack, the company was negotiating with the FTC on a privacy settlement even as it haggled with the hackers on containing the breach, Uber said. The company finally agreed to the FTC settlement three months ago, without admitting wrongdoing and before telling the agency about last year’s attack.

The new CEO said his goal is to change Uber’s ways. Uber said it informed New York’s attorney general and the FTC about the October 2016 hack for the first time on Tuesday. Khosrowshahi asked for the resignation of Sullivan and fired Craig Clark, a senior lawyer who reported to Sullivan. The men didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The company said its investigation found that Salle Yoo, the outgoing chief legal officer who has been scrutinized for her responses to other matters, hadn’t been told about the incident. Her replacement, Tony West, will start at Uber on Wednesday and has been briefed on the cyberattack.

Kalanick was ousted as CEO in June under pressure from investors, who said he put the company at legal risk. He remains on the board and recently filled two seats he controlled.

“While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes,” Khosrowshahi said in the emailed statement.

Uber said it has hired Matt Olsen, a former general counsel at the National Security Agency and director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as an adviser. He will help the company restructure its security teams. Uber hired Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm owned by FireEye Inc., to investigate the hack.

The company plans to release a statement to customers saying it has seen “no evidence of fraud or misuse tied to the incident.” Uber said it will provide drivers whose licenses were compromised with free credit protection monitoring and identity theft protection.

from Taxi Leaks

Uber Paid Hackers to Delete Stolen Data on 57 Million People

The Scandal Continues : Criminals Driving For Uber In Southend, TfL Revoke Just Two Licenses.

The scandal continues :
We've been told, via the media, that TfL knew there were 13,000 Uber drivers with fake DBS certificates back in January 2017.

We also know that TfL were informed around this time, about two Uber drivers working in Southend, who had lost their Southend licenses due to criminal conviction, were subsequently licensed by TfL. 

Southend council found two local cab drivers, who had previously been stripped of their licences, were using the Uber app to pick up passengers in the area. Nasser Hussain, 60, and Nisar Abbas, 37, had been found to be sharing penalty points for traffic offences with other drivers in order to avoid being banned.

Despite this, they were able to get new private hire licences from Transport for London and work using the Uber app in Southend, even though Uber doesn't have an operators’ licence there. 

Tony Cox, Southend council’s cabinet member for transport, said the legislative loophole left the local authority “impotent to protect the public”. But the public could be better protected if TfL did their job properly. 

Why Just Two Out Of 13,000?
The drivers criminal history was pointed out to TfL in February 2017 by a local Southend drivers association and their licenses were revoke.....but why just the two?

Were TfLTPH hoping this would satisfy media interest and sweep the rest of this scandal under the carpet ?

Mayor's question time 22nd of March 2017 : 
 Keith Prince AM asked the question:

Sadiq Khan answered: 

Why hasn't more been done about the other 13,000 ? 

Are TfL hoping this will all blow over ?

Why did Helen Chapman gamble with public safety ? 

from Taxi Leaks

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