New Transport Agency head 'surprised' at media attention

1:57 min

The new head of Sweden’s Transport Agency said he was taken aback at the blanket media coverage of security issues around the authority’s IT outsourcing.

“That this has taken on such huge proportions has somewhat surprised me,” Jonas Bjelfvenstam said in an interview with Swedish Radio on Friday. “I only mean to say that the media’s coverage has been extensive.”

Bjelfvenstam was appointed acting head of the Transport Agency when its previous head Maria Ågren was fired in January for ignoring Swedish security laws in an effort to prevent delays by outsourcing an IT contract, even though Sweden's security services Säpo advised her not to do so.

Last month, two senior ministers stepped down to ward off a no-confidence motion put forward by the opposition Alliance bloc over the agencies 2015 outsourcing deal with IBM.

According to Säpo, the deal gave staff based overseas, who had not received the proper security clearance, access to classified information including millions of Swedish driver's license photos and details about Sweden's roads, bridges, and metro systems.

In the interview, Bjelfvenstam said that he was given very little information as to why Ågren was sacked when he took over from her.

“I knew nothing apart from the fact that it had something to do with security issues related to outsourcing,” he said.

Although the Agency’s databases are still partly managed by technicians based overseas, Bjelfvenstam's aim is to repatriate all database management to Sweden.

He said that the Transport Agency has now audited which data it holds that contains sensitive classified information.

“I have a better grip on the situation today than I did a month ago,” he said.

Bjelfvenstam said he had no objections to the coming government investigation.

“I welcome all investigations, whether they are carried out by us, or by independent outsiders,” he said.