6 January 2012

The Sloth Society - New Southgate branch

Mr Mustard likes 3 toed sloths. Its embarrassing when they make you look slow.

Readers will recall that in March 2011 the wheels where shown to have completely fallen off the procurement arm of Barnet Council and a Procurement Action Plan ("PAP") followed quickly on the heels of the critical "MetPro" Audit Committee of June 2011. The PAP did not mention that the Procurement Code of Practice was to be updated (the one on the council website is from March 2006). The PAP also didn't mention that a Procurement Centralisation Plan ("PCP") was envisaged. Perhaps these decisions were only taken later but if so they display a complete lack of joined up thinking as the council had 3 months to think about the matter before non-stick Nick Walkley had to try and tell the Audit Committee why procurement was so appalling.

Now back in November 11 in response to an FOI request by Mr Mustard about how the financial strength and council business share of major suppliers is regularly monitored ( not sure that it is ) he received a specially created policy extract containing parts of the Procurement Code of Practice. Mr Mustard noticed that the paragraph numbers of this document (thick end of 2 A4 pages) were different to the March 2006 version. So assuming there was a new version and the website was slow in being updated ( quite normal! ) he asked to see a copy. The answer he got was that he couldn't have a copy because it was not yet approved and it was for future publication (a  standard exemption under FOI). 

He has, of course, already seen 2 pages. It is all routine stuff and no harm would be done by the public seeing it all and it would save the time of FOI officers if this sort of document was released without question, it isn't the recipe for coca-cola (which Mr Mustard does not drink!). In fact they might even make free suggestions for improvement as the public will include real world procurement experts. That is called crowdsourcing.

Curious to know when the updated code would be available and thinking it must surely be very soon as procurement is still in such a mess ( RM Countryside Services! ) he asked the question. The verbatim answer from 16 December was:

the publication date is pending it is envisaged this will be achieved for the end of the financial year, March 2012.

Please note : This document is subject to authorisation prior to publication.
Procurement Manager
Now you would think, wouldn't you, that having right royally messed up procurement, that there would be a rush to get all the building blocks in place and not take a slothsome year to come up with an updated code and then also unwisely plan to update the website at the very time that is is being completely updated.

This sort of speed of inaction is what gives local authorities a bad name and you would think that Barnet Council might think that theirs was bad enough already and try to perform their duties speedily and impeccably.

You might think that but you would be wrong.

To make sure this sort of Code is in place is why Craig Cooper, the Commercial Director, is paid £132,480 p.a.

In the next 20 working days Mr Mustard also hopes to share the PCP with you. 

Yours, far from slothfully

Mr Mustard

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