NHS England has published a heavily redacted version of its 586-page contract with US data giant Palantir to operate the new Federated Data Platform, which blocks out significant parts of the content, including most of the information under the heading “protection of personal data”.
After multiple delays of its announcement, NHSE awarded the £330 million FDP contract to Palantir in late November. The contract award will extend over the course of seven years as more trusts join the platform, with investment of at least £25.6 million expected in the first contract year.
The redacted FDP contract, which was published on the government register on 22 December, is split into three sections. It appears to cover the first three years of FDP, ending on 15 February 2027, with a total value during this period of £182 million.
In the second part of the contract, 259 out of 272 pages are redacted, along with 164 pages out of 242 pages in the contract’s third section.
In addition, the document blacks out references to financial reports on the FDP and when they should be provided as well as details about key personnel and their roles and responsibilities.
An NHSE spokesman said: “The contract award notice and redacted version of the contract was published on the government website within 30 days of being awarded, in line with government guidance. Due to its size and complexity, commercial sensitivities, and data security, we continue to work on final redactions and additional parts of the contract may be made available, if appropriate.”
The awarding of the FDP contract to Palantir, and the procurement process that preceded it, provoked widespread controversy. Concerns about the opaque nature of the tender process and Palantir’s apparently advantageous position are unlikely to be mollified by the nature of the contract that has been published.
Transparency and legal advocates such as the Good Law Project, openDemocracy and Foxglove have repeatedly cited the US company’s controversial reputation, due to its association with US security operations. They also suggested that Palantir’s public comments on the process suggested it was interested in monetising the data at a later point.
In the months immediately leading up to the contract award, critics of the FDP process focused on concerns about the future integrity of health data; the pressure apparently contributed to a commitment by NHSE’s Transformation Directorate in late September to a planned public engagement program on NHS use of data after the FDP tender. It said it expects to hold events through 2024 and 2025.
On the same day that the redacted contract was published the Good Law Project said leaked emails showed Palantir had hired PR agency Topham Guerin to pay influencers to attack Good Law Project on social media.