1 September 2011

Procurement progress

Here is the report which will be presented to the Audit Committee on 6 September 2011. You can download the report here ( Item 8 ) if you want to print it out or keep it.

Everything in the garden is supposedly now rosy ( well blue and green anyway ). Mr Mustard will comment at the end of this post.

click to enlarge: back to return to blog

Here is para 9.2 again.

This Action Plan (appendix A) sets out the immediate actions being taken by Officers to mitigate the risks associated with existing non-compliant contracts across the Council and to improve the overall internal control environment. In addition, the Corporate Procurement team is working across service areas within the Council to create a forward plan of procurement activity required over the remainder of 2011/12 financial year and going forward into 2012/13. It should however be noted that part of the work to compile a forward plan will include an assessment of the potential impact on local businesses and the SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) community as a result of the Council having enhanced procurement procedures and controls.
What a load of nonsense. Your plan, in so far as it has been worked out, is to carry out the existing written procedures of the council in the future so why do you need to do an assessment of the impact on SME's because one should have been done when the procurement rules were written? In addition, SME's actually expect to have contracts as they are normal in the commercial world and by the way, a small company can have a turnover of up to £2.8m so most readers will not think that is small.
Mr Mustard just loves paragraph 9.3 - the "shot yourself in the foot" paragraph.
Early work on our Contracts Register to date has highlighted that over 80% of spend is compliant with existing Contract Procedure Rules (CPR’s), this is significantly above the median for other Councils within the London region. Our benchmark data was received through our participation in 2010 in a London Efficiency Challenge (LEC) which was developed, managed and sponsored by Capital Ambition. Data from this exercise identified that the benchmark for all Council’s within this dataset (25 London Councils) showed that 63% of relevant spend is under contract. 

Put another way up to 20% of the spend ( on Contracts worth £25,000+ ) is not compliant. 
The median is not a good measure as it is the middle value in a list. In addition, Mr Mustard does not give a fig how bad other councils are at complying with their rules. What matters Barnet Council is that you have a set of rules, the CPR, with which the compliance should be 100%.
You have also compared your current performance, which you were forced to improve after a roasting, with an average from 2010. Perhaps every other London council is now on 100%? 
Move your foot out of the way now Barnet Council. You admit that in 2010 you knew that up to 20% of your spend was not compliant with CPR. What did you do in 2010? Nothing at all it would seem as it was only when MetPro hit the fan that you moved yourselves. It's a disgrace.

Where are the current compliance issues?

Commercial Services. Surely not, not within the department that is headed up by Captain Craig Cooper on £130,000 p.a. which deals with, wait for it, Procurement, and might be expected to know a little about the Contract Procedure Rules. Despite that, there are 31 compliance issues. You could be let off 1 even though that would be embarrassing but 31, please!

Look at para 9.6 

The Audit Committee received the action plan in relation to Procurement Controls and Monitoring at the June Committee, it was reported at that time that the majority of this work was scheduled for delivery by the end of September; Appendix A details the position as at the week ending 26th August and this evidences is a good amount of progress. We are approximately 80% through our internal quality assurance processes to ensure our contracts register is fit-for-purpose. Work on the Corporate Contract Register will continue and is expected to be completed to schedule.
So approx 80% through the process but able to say in para 9.3 that over 80% of spend is compliant. Then there are lists of hundreds of failures to comply, therefore one of those 80% statistics is probably wrong ( there is a way in which both numbers might be right but Mr Musatrd doubts that the review was organised in that way )
Lies, damn lies & statistics.

Mr Mustard will be asking to see the Corporate Contract Register once it is complete ( which it probably never will be )

Mr Mustard notes that Internal Audit are going to take another look at procurement and he looks forward to the December meeting of the Audit Committee.
Just taking a brief look at the Action Plan Mr Mustard notes that the appraisal process for the top 4 tiers of management will check governance compliance. Mr Mustard dreads to think how many layers of management there are in total but the answer is almost certainly too many. The page on this link suggests that Barnet Council could be managed more flatly with just 5 levels of employee.

More money will go on SAP. Logica have made a proposal for Business warehouse reporting enhancements.
One tiny well done to Barnet Council. You put a key on the last page of the report. At last, some commonsense.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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