14 July 2011

Keep taking the tablets

You will need this.

Just when Mr Mustard thought he couldn't be shocked by the antics of Barnet Council another shocking email exploded into his in-tray. Mr Mustard thinks that you should see the actual words of Barnet Council for yourself. 

Freedom of Information Request
Internal and external contractors with tablet PCs
Information requested:-

“Please tell me the number of loan issue LBB tablet PCs that are out on loan to contractors, partners and other people or organisations that are not Barnet Council employees.

Please list the contractors, partners or people or organisations that have the said tablet.”

You later clarified that your request covers both external contractors/organisations and individual who have contracted with the council to fill internal posts.

Information provided:-

I can confirm that the Council holds information of the description specified in your request.

The information held by the Council that the Council has identified, located, retrieved and extracted is set out below:-

The use of tablets/laptops or any IT equipment at Barnet is strictly monitored. It is the
responsibility of each individual Manager for the availability of mobile IT equipment to
internal contractors and its return to the service area when that contractor is no longer
employed by the council.

No external contractors are loaned tablets.

The above data reflects information the Council has been able to identify, locate, retrieve and extract within a reasonable time. The Council holds additional information of the description specified in your request; however it would be too costly to produce this information. As such please see the refusal notice below:- 
Refusal Notice

From our preliminary assessment, we estimate that full compliance with your request would
exceed the appropriate costs limit under section 12 of the FOIA. This is currently £450.

I can confirm that the Council holds the information that you have requested.

However at this time, as the availability and loan action is undertaken by each Service Area, it has been estimated to marry up the data held on individuals, details of contractors held, and research undertaken with each Service Area to identify any un-used tablets would take a minimum of five days (36 hours) at an estimated cost of £900.
So there we have it. The issue of tablet computers is "strictly monitored" and the monitoring is so strict that Barnet Council don't know without doing 36 hours research who has them. The tablets cost about £1,500 each and there must be hundreds of them if it will take 36 hours to produce a simple list. So possibly £1/4million of stock out on loan to someone, somewhere ? 
What sort of mess would we be in if the control was slack ?

Have you got any idea Barnet Council why Mr Mustard thinks that you are overpaid for your level of incompetence ?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


  1. You are being uncharitable Mr Mustard. These poor oafs have deficient (or no) procurement systems (according to the audit reports) so they probably could not tell you who is contracted, where, doing what, for whom and why. Then you come along with these crazy questions about accounting for equipment! What next? Questions about IT Strategy? Asset and Inventory controls? Depreciation charges? Insuring equipment?

  2. Mr. Mustard should be more worried about Data Protection and theft of these extremely expensive pieces of equipment as there mobility, size and value make them prime targets for theives, considering they were presumably purchased to make it easier to work off site.

  3. You might find a blog post on the subject of missing tablets in a week or two Beestrust


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.