U.K. leaders wary of Lockheed census bid

Lockheed Martin Corp.'s bid for an $890 million national census contract in the United Kingdom is coming under fire from several members of Parliament.

Members of Parliament's Treasury Committee are raising concerns that according to the U.S. Patriot Act, U.S. intelligence agencies might be able to access U.K. census data. The committee is seeking assurances from the U.S. government.

A Lockheed Martin spokeswoman said the data would not be accessible to anyone outside of the British government.

"The Patriot Act does not apply here. All census data will remain the property of the British Government at all times," said Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Anna DePaola. "At no stage will the data leave the U.K. and no Lockheed Martin employees will have access to it at any stage?all data processing will be done entirely by British companies in Britain. Under no circumstances will any information gathered under our proposal be subject to the Patriot Act."

The 10-year U.K. census is due to take place in 2011. All residents are required to provide personal data on the census forms. Lockheed Martin is bidding against Deutsche Telekom's T-Systems division, according to media reports. The Office for National Statistics is expected to announce the winner in June.

A Treasury minister said that if Lockheed Martin won the contract, it would need to include provisions that restrict access to the census information. However, the Treasury Committee members were not convinced that would be effective, according to media reports.

Lockheed Martin, of Bethesda, Md., ranks No. 1 on Washington Technology's 2008 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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