|picture credit : bbc audio|
One would rather hope that the Council had a list of all long term contracts it has placed. Apparently not. Here is a Freedom of Information request from 1 December ( revised 19 December ) and the non-answer which arrived somewhat late, after a nudge, on 6 March 2012.
Dear Mr. Mustard,
I am writing regarding your request, received by the London Borough of Barnet (the Council) on 1 December 2011, for the following information:
1. Please provide lists of suppliers with whom there is currently an approved list of suppliers to the Environment Planning & Regeneration directorate giving the date of approval, the maximum contract value and the approved types of work.
2. Please also provide a list of all suppliers with term agreements for all directorates ( I have assumed the number is modest ) giving the date & duration of the agreement and the kinds of work carried out by that supplier which is covered by the term agreement.
3. Please also provide a list of all suppliers with framework agreements for all directorates ( I have assumed the number is modest ) giving the date & duration of the agreement and the kinds of work carried out by that supplier which is covered by the framework agreement.
This was further clarified on 19 December with the following:
Thank you for quoting my reference. I am interested in any contractor who has a contract in place with EPR, whether or not they also happen to work for other departments.
Term contracts, or agreements, get a mention at para 6.14 of the Contract Procedure Rules.
If we turn the question around it might help. I am looking for a list of all contracts currently in place with EPR of any kind which cover regular suppliers of repeated similar items over a period of months or years as opposed to one-off tenders for specific items. I tried to set out the varied kinds of contract which the council seem to have ( I may have missed some? ) so that I got them all whatever they are called. Does that help? It would be helpful to have an outline of the work types for each contract.
We have processed your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the FOIA). I apologise for the delay in providing this response.
1. I can confirm that information is held relating to your requested. However, I estimate that identifying, locating, retrieving and extracting the information referred to in Part 1 of your request would exceed the appropriate costs limit under section 12 of the FOIA. This is currently £450, or 18 hours of officer time at a standard rate of £25 per hour.
The information in this case is not held centrally, either in the Council as a whole or by EPR itself. In order to comply with your request for information, each service area in EPR would have to run a report from our database and examine it line by line in order to identify similar items. As EPR contains 5 divisions, each containing a number of services areas, this would be an extremely lengthy process and the Council has estimated that it would easily exceed 18 hours of officer time to identify, locate, retrieve and extract this information.
2. I can confirm that information is held relating to your request. However, as above, I estimate that identifying, locating, retrieving and extracting the information would exceed the appropriate limit. Again, the information is not held centrally or in directorates in this form, production of the information would entail line by line examination and analysis of spend reports for all departments and service areas across the Council. Again, this would be an extremely lengthy process, and would take the response well over the 18 hour limit, especially when aggregated with the response to part 1.
3. Would exceed appropriate limit, as above.
I estimate that identifying, locating, retrieving and extracting the information requested by you would exceed the appropriate costs limit under section 12 of the FOIA. This response therefore acts as a Refusal Notice. It is possible that if you narrow the scope of your request we may be able to provide related information. I cannot, however, guarantee that this will be the case.
If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been handled, you can request a review within the next 20 working days by writing to the FOI Officer at: The London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London, N11 1NP (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
If, having exhausted our review procedure, you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint, you will have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF (telephone: 08456 306060 or 01625 545745; website www.ico.gov.uk). There is no charge for making an appeal.
Information Governance Officer
The council was quite late in providing this non-reply.
Mr Mustard finds himself quite worried that this Directorate does not have a list of all the contracts which are in place for a year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years etc. so that it can renegotiate them in good time before they expire and also so they don't try to put in place a contract for the supply of something when there is already a term agreement in place for everything which covers that one-off purchase.
Over £20m has been thrown at SAP. Surely the council can run a report which produces what should be a fairly short list of all term agreements / contracts? SAP really is appalling value.
There is a duty under FOI to be helpful. Mr Mustard does not think that the council have been in this instance and so will ask some more questions.