18 August 2011

One Barnet programme highlights report 11 July 2011

A copy of the highlights are presented to the Budget & Performance Overview & Scrutiny Committee meetings and sadly Mr Mustard had to miss the 21 July meeting as it clashed with some real work. Nonetheless Mr Mustard thinks that you will find the papers interesting even without the benefit of a live commentary.

The first page sets out the grading rules. One Barnet's overall grade is A for Amber ( top right of page ) which considering the money thrown at this programme is a poor result. Also bear in mind that this score is compiled using self assessment so is hardly likely to be as rigorous as one done by an external marker, imagine if you decided for yourself if you had passed your driving test - yes a ridiculous idea.

click to enlarge and then back to return
Mr Mustard does not know what decided the order of the next page but it isn't in the same order as the One Barnet framework which would make things easier to follow or maybe that is part of the One Barnet idea - just sow confusion and people will stop asking questions?

No key for what blue is but Mr Mustard thinks it is programmes which have completed; the C is the clue ? unless of course you know better. 

Now of the 10 programmes which do have One Barnet currently under way 5 of them have amber or red problems ( rather quaintly called "issues" which doesn't fool anyone ). That tells Mr Mustard that One Barnet is wobbly, to say the least.

So on the next page we have Programme Commentary and HR activity.

Now Barnet Council if you want to carry on using acronyms for public documents you have to provide a key.
Mr Mustard can guess that the OSC is the Oversight & Scrutiny Committee.
Mr Mustard does not know what the CLG group is. Mr Mustard will probably also have to issue a Freedom of Information request for a copy of the "One Barnet programme - project updates" ( Mr Mustard likes works of fiction - especially unfathomable mysteries ) and the weekly project update emails for the New Support and Customer Service Organisation unless a kind reader sends him copies of them on the quiet ( please use a disposable email address to preserve your anonymity ).
Mr Mustard isn't sure what the point is of the Programme Commentary section as there aren't comments about all 10 live projects.

HR Activity
Mr Mustard would love to read a set of notes from the Change & Me workshops. Let's imagine that workers fear that they will be transferred out to a new employer, their pension gets cut, then their wages get frozen and although their work stays in Barnet in the medium term they are under the constant worry that the work will be moved somewhere cheaper, Newcastle, Wales or India say, none of which they want to move to because their relatives all live in Barnet and their partners work here. Mr Mustard wonders what selection of coping strategies are being offered - a visit to the Sandbanks Hotel & Spa perhaps ?

Is anyone sitting comfortably at the North London Business Park? Don't think that you can sit comfy Assistant Directors. Once you have outsourced everything you will get chopped down to size.

Next, Project Status

Parking, now there is a subject to upset the voters. So the judicial review continues, see this blog and Cllr. Brian Coleman's unilateral decision to force every person who wants to buy parking to use a mobile phone and a credit/debit card ( unless they can find one of 84 paypoint outlets in the whole borough ) has been called in ( the decision is to be reviewed at a meeting of the Cabinet ).

An outsourced parking service will not be better. It will be profit motivated and impersonal. Mr Mustard advises you to appeal every parking ticket that you get. This website is a good place to start. Let's deluge the service with appeals. It's now on work to rule so that will help you.

Mr Mustard thinks that this programme will suffer slippage.

Customer Service Transformation

Mr Mustard thinks that CMS = customer management system - yes, you need to be managed not provided with a service. This project is suffering slippage, in English that means it is running late. It also needs budget changes. Guess if the budget will have to go up or down ? Why any company, or council, would want to contract out its contacts and conversations with its residents is beyond Mr Mustard's comprehension. You can't manage what you can't see.

Development & Regulatory Services

These services sound innocuous. They are these ones:-

Strategic Services:
Strategic Planning and Housing Strategy
Highways Transport and Regeneration
Highways Strategy

Operational Services:
Building Control and Structures
Planning Development Management
Land Charges
Highways Network Management
Highways Traffic and Development
Public Health, Consumer and Regulatory Services
Environmental Health
Trading Standards & Licensing
Cemetery & Crematorium
Registration and Nationality Service

Vital services then. Should they be contracted out? Some could be if there was a more efficient way of providing them; the only ones that fall into that category for Mr Mustard are small services where economies of scale can be achieved by combining with others and even then a set of local councils should look at gathering together. To Mr Mustard most of these services would have such a huge impact on Barnet if they went wrong ( unsupervised at a distance; perhaps abroad ) that it is foolish to outsource them.

If you are unhappy look your councillor up here, telephone them, email them, go to their surgery and tell them what bothers you and demand action. Your councillor gets paid a packet in allowances ( pay by another name ) and many of them don't appear to work hard enough for it.


Not a Transport of delight then! What could be easier than organising some transport? What, oh, arranging transport in Barnet, I see. Can someone please tell Mr Mustard what the WLA is ?

One Barnet is full of accidental jokes. Transport will be late!

New Support and Customer Services Procurement

It sounds innocuous enough. It isn't. This project is to outsource Corporate Procurement, Customer Services, Estates, Finance, Human Resources, Information Systems and Revenues & Benefits. More One Barnet lunacy.
Procurement at Barnet Council has been awful and so Barnet Council will give the cheque book to a third party. Genius! The Business Case foresees a 1% to 3% improvement. If the famous five Barnet bloggers were let loose in procurement they would probably each find that amount without any need for outsourcing.

Customer services

The chance to leave a good impression on a resident by dealing speedily and efficiently with their call will be lost once the calls are taken by an external provider who doesn't know anyone. Imagine ringing the call centre and asking for Nick Walkley - to find that they haven't heard of him! No sir, no-one called Walkley works there.


You have 573 buildings to manage. You already have economies of scale. Outsourcing will not help.

Just write off every penny spent on SAP by outsourcing to a company with a different system.
Human Resources
Well it won't need 81 people will it once 70% of services have been outsourced? I do hope the price negotiated is directly related to workload. The head of HR has already been outsourced to someone who is allergic to PAYE.
Information Systems 
The infrastructure is out of date. If outsourced Barnet Council will still have to pay to fix it and there will be the suppliers margin on top. See this report on the BBC website.
Revenues & Benefits
Evidently Barnet Council have not handled this team very well as they are working to rule. Council tax payers are having to pay for 53 temps. Please see the earlier blogs and those on Vickim57's website. See also page 11 of Private Eye  "Crapita performance" 19 August issue. You can't miss it with "Olympic Rehearsal" on the cover. the picture looks awfully like the recent riots!

AdSS In-House service review ( Adss = Adults social services )

Mr Reasonable is rather worried about the LATC and vat, see here. Even at the concept stage this project is in trouble.


So SAP optimisation is over. Hurrah. Cheerio Mr Garfield - see you again soon. Mr Mustard doubts that this will be the last type that he types "SAP optimisation".

Right to Control 

aka RTC. However CSD, MDT, BCIL & ODI mean nothing to Mr Mustard or 99% of residents, probably.

Rapid Improvement 

The jokes just keep coming. There have been slight delays....in the rapid improvement!

LSP Governance 

Mr Mustard will have to wait until 14 September to see what that is.

Major risks

Mr Mustard likes living dangerously so he has sent off to see all of the medium & minor risks as well. The major ones are pretty major:-

Increased negativity to outsourcing caused by having a two tier workforce. Is it a surprise that when the person sitting next to you earns 25% more and gets more holidays that there is strife, low morale and decreased productivity? No.

Partners not properly engaged and involved with the transformation agenda so there is insufficient buy-in. As no-one understands what the heck is going on at the council apart from the fact that a fortune is being squandered on a vast army of consultants and services are about the same ( or worse in the case of parking meters going cashless, and libraries and museums being closed etc etc )

Uncertainty may cause employees to look outside organisation for what are perceived as more secure roles. That is true enough. Even Assistant Directors will not be safe from the cull. Once almost everything is outsourced there will be nothing for them to do.

No-one except a pensions actuary understands pensions.
Finally the really interesting page, the budget.

So there it is, the budget for One Barnet. £5,928,988 Let us just call it £6 million for round numbers. Has £6 million ever been more badly spent?

There is still time to put this ship in reverse if a brave captain were to take the helm.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 comment:

  1. CLG - Council Leadership Group
    WLA - West London Alliance


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