5 July 2012

One Barnet - The One Way Bet

The contract that Mr Mustard is about to tell you about was not a One Barnet contract but it doesn't matter because the same principles will apply.

Mr Mustard made a Freedom of Information request as follows:-

Please provide a copy of the contract signed with Enpeyz Consulting Ltd (in about March 2009)

Please also provide a list of all payments made to them as recorded on SAP showing the amount and date as far back as the record goes.

Here are the payments:

Date of Gross
Clearing Amount £
02/10/2009 3,881
01/10/2009 1,840
06/10/2009 1,409
24/12/2009 15,266
23/02/2010 2,080
25/02/2010 22,166
02/03/2010 925
22/03/2010 6,045
20/04/2010 8,061
20/04/2010 5,199
29/06/2010 1,040
29/06/2010 5,199
07/07/2010 2,015
08/07/2010 1,008
05/08/2010 10,399
02/11/2010 470
30/11/2010 8,319
13/12/2010 7,053
18/01/2011 6,239
09/03/2011 1,062
23/03/2011 15,435
06/04/2011 1,029
28/04/2011 4,248
Total 130,389

Two contracts were provided. One for the External Assessment of Financial Management Standard in Schools (FMSiS) and the other for the Internal Audit of Schools.

They are quite long so not published here but the bit that matters is that they were contracts which both started on 1 April 2009 until 31 March 2012 with a 2 year option to extend if both the council and Enpeyz agreed.

Two months later Mr Mustard made another FOI request:

Thank you for your answer. I have some new questions.
The two contracts that you have provided run until March 2012. Invoices stop in March 2011 ( per the over £500 lists).
Did Enpeyz provide the services in the year to 31 March 2012?
If not, who did, and provide a copy of their contract, of any delegated powers report which refers and details of when and where the opportunity to provide the financial services to schools was advertised.
If Enpeyz did provide the services, why are the payments not showing under their name in the over £500 lists?
Here is the answer.
The government abolished FMSiS in March 2011, the contractor Enpez (sic) notified the Council in May 2011 that due to the viability of the contract with the reduction of FMSiS and the movement of many schools to academy status that the contractor could no longer service the contract, it was agreed to mutually terminate the contract early.

The work was moved to the in-house team and as such there have been no further payments to an external agency.

So with a year to run on a three year contract the supplier is simply allowed to walk away (presumably without making any payment in compensation as it isn't mentioned and good news usually is) and in-house audit have to pick up extra work which will have taken them away from more urgent tasks like auditing One Barnet.

This was a small contract which the supplier bid for knowing that academies had existed since 2000 and that the government changes legislation all the time and this should have been priced into their bid. 

So the reward was taken for 2 years and then when the risk was too rich for the supplier they just walked away. 

Now think about One Barnet and the risks there will be over 10 years when £1bn is involved. Suppliers will fall over themselves to get rid of bits of the contract they don't like and it seems as if the senior management at Barnet Council will just let them.

Let us not hear any councillors in the future in council and committee meetings saying that the risk is passed to the supplier. It is passed back to the council. The supplier always has the ace in the hole.

Think about it councillors. Are you still sure this One Barnet nonsense is going to achieve what is being promised as savings.

In the dreadful shilly-shally words of Jay Mercer, the Deputy Director of Children's Services, at the Business & Management Overview & Scrutiny committee on 11 June 12 "It is an issue of terminology. An indicative target is only an estimate" (This was in relation to the number of free nursery places for 2 year olds where Cllr Harper was trying to claim that there wasn't a target and the council were only planning to make 500 places available instead of the 800 recommended by government - neither Harper nor Mercer covered themselves in glory on 11 June). 

If Jay Mercer is going to be delivering any One Barnet savings in the future the figures he comes out with won't be ones that we can rely on.

Mr Mustard has just remembered the phrase he keeps on seeing in One Barnet paperwork. "Aspirational Savings". If the potential suppliers are of the Mercer mould that means a number that they tell the council in order to make them sign up and which afterwards will only be an estimate that can be missed.

Think about this as well councillors. Have you given too much power to officers and hence to potential suppliers.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

No comments:

Post a Comment

I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.