10 May 2012

Half of the One Barnet Risk Register

Executive Summary

The One Barnet programme has 58 pages of risks of which the public can only be told about half of them.

Mr Mustard's view

Mr Mustard's view of One Barnet is a simple one; One Barnet is Everything and Nothing all at the same time.

Mr Mustard decided he wanted to see the complete One Barnet risk register as it is the most risky project ever seen in Barnet. It hasn't been quite as hard to get hold of as the NHS risk register but it has not been easy either.

When did he ask? :  16 August 2011
(it makes your overdue request from November look recent Mr Reasonable)

When did he get a reply? : 8 May 2012.
(actually he only got half a reply. Off to the Information Commissioner next)

You might enjoy the entire pitiful reply (Mr Mustard doesn't take issue with the FOI officer who will only be following orders)

Dear Mr Mustard

I am writing in response to your request for an internal review of a request made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

History of request

On 16 August 2011 you requested the following information under FOIA.

“Please provide a copy of the One Barnet programme risk register as an attachment to an email.”

The council’s response dated 21 September 2011 is set out below.

“The council is currently in a structured procurement process. The Council is working with advisors and partners to ensure that good practices are followed in all aspects of this work. This is a competitive process during which the Council will be limited in the information it is able to make available as there are numerous commercial sensitivities.

I confirm that The Council does hold a risk register in relation to the One Barnet programme.

Under section 43(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘FOIA’), the council may refuse to disclose information to the extent that its disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of any person, including the Council. Having considered your request and the relevant provisions of the FOIA, I am satisfied that such a disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of the Council, its commercial partners. The Council is therefore relying on this exemption to withhold the information referred to above.

Even where this exemption applies, the council must still disclose information, unless the public interest in withholding it outweighs the public interest in disclosure. This extra stage is known as the ‘public interest test’. Whilst there is public interest in openness and transparency, in this particular instance, due to the nature of the information being requested, I am satisfied that this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the Council’s ability to participate competitively in this commercial activity and ensure best value for the taxpayer, particularly as the information requested is applicable to an ongoing tendering process. As such, I am satisfied that the risk register in relation to the One Barnet programme, can be withheld under section 43(1) of part II of the FOIA.”

Your request for an internal review was acknowledged on 21 September 2011.

I have undertaken an internal review. The outcome of my review is set out below.



Under the FOIA you are entitled to a prompt response which in any event should be sent within 20 working days from the date your request is received. The council’s response to your initial request was late; please accept my apology on behalf of the council for failing to meet this statutory deadline. In addition please accept my apology for the delay in conducting this internal review.

Exempt information

Your request was refused under section 43(1) of the FOIA which states that information is exempt if it constitutes a trade secret. Having reviewed your request, I find that this exemption was wrongly engaged as the risk register does not constitute a trade secret.

I have spoken to the officer who responded to your request and he has informed me that this was a typographical error and that he intended to rely on the exemption in section 43(2) which precludes disclosure of information where disclosure would or would likely prejudice the commercial interests of any person.

I am satisfied that the information contained in the risk register does not constitute a trade secret however I do agree that some elements are exempt under section 43(2) of the FOIA.

I have had sight of the register and I am of the view that the exemption in section 43 (2) does not apply to the whole register. The register should not have been withheld, but rather the exempt information should have been redacted from the register and the redacted version provided to you. I find that by withholding the entire register, the council erred in the processing of your request.

Please find attached the risk register with exempt information redacted.

I must advise that the register is a live document and risks in which the problems have been addressed are closed as and when this is done. Because of the significant length of time it has taken to conduct this review, the most recent version of the register has been printed off and redacted. I sincerely apologise for this delay and for all other errors in the processing of your request.


1. Project Issues:

I have been informed that due to a technical constraint on the council’s risk management system, the One Barnet risk register report includes project issues as well as risks. These issues have been redacted from the attached as they do not fall within the scope of your request.

2. Personal Information (persons below AD level)

The names of council officers below Assistant Director level have been redacted as well as the names of non-council officers. We have redacted these names as we consider that they are the personal data of these persons and therefore exempt under section 40 (3) of FOIA. This exemption is absolute and is not subject to the public interest test.

I am satisfied that disclosure of these names would contravene the first data protection principles which states that personal data must be processed fairly and lawfully.

3. Commercially sensitive-

We have also redacted all commercially sensitive information contained in the register. I am satisfied that arguments made in the original response, in favour of maintaining this exemption are valid.

Your right of appeal to the Information Commissioner

We consider we have complied with our obligations under the FOIA. However, if you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF (An appeal will be made)

Now for the register itself or more correctly the half that Mr Mustard is allowed to see. This is a complete joke. The register is risks that might happen. They are all theoretical except that some of them will be based upon reality. They are almost certainly things that one blogger or another will already know about. This is not the document of an Open and Transparent council. Enough of Mr Mustard's view, look for yourself, only 58 pages, many of them too horrific to be seen in public.

One Barnet Risk Register 8 May 2012
The Risk Codes key is on page 58.

Mr Mustard has now had the document converted from pdf to word rtf (rich text format) It doesn't look to be 100% so he has made both available.

Risk Register 8 May 2012 (Landscape) One Barnet

Although these are supposedly theoretical risks there is not doubt that some of them have occurred. You can read the whole report yourself, except for the redacted half. Mr Mustard notes the following:

P2. The phone system is a big problem. Five bar gate drawings are being used to capture information, not exactly cutting edge is it? (Also on this page: It is Liaise not liase)

P3. Customers won't transfer to new channels if they don't have a computer!

P3. Insufficient focus on benefits realisation across Customer Services Transformation.

P4. Senior officers don't understand Customer Services transformation.

P5. Not possible to transform Customer Services and do the day job at the same time.

P9. Legal fees out of control. Pam Wharfe's name rendered as Wharf is not a good sign of attention to detail.

P12. This doesn't look good. No information governance mechanisms in place for the parking contract. The audit of third party providers (outsourcers) was being smoothed over by audit at the most recent committee. The assurances given don't look so good when viewed alongside this document.

P13. Barnet Council don't know enough about Data Protection. Could this be related to the recent cock-up in the parking department in which staff details were given out in error and to the wrong provider.

P14. The council think that can smooth over protest about One Barnet. No you can't as it is about to go up by a factor of 10.

P15. Libraries are a real concern. They should be as they are going wrong.

P21. The reason for restructuring needs close examination by Unison.

P32. Unrealistic expectation of the level of service they will receive from the new provider. The new provider will only provide exactly what was contracted for and nothing else without extra money.

P32. The number of compliant and non-compliant contracts under the £25k threshold is unknown. Oh dear, Lord Monroe Palmer is going to completely his normal cool exterior.

P37. One Barnet could fail due to opposition from the electorate. Bloggers must quadruple their efforts.

If the risks that Mr Mustard is allowed to see are this risky, how bad are the rest?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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