Friday, 10 January 2014

From Vital Vision to Future Vision: making friends, and influencing people, the BT way?



Eric Pickles is very good at talking the talk when it comes to transparency, and open government, and making local councils more accountable to their electors and tax payers, and has recently announced new proposals to make local authorities publish details of all contracts over £5,000 with private sector partners. 

The information that he wants to see released as a matter of obligation will be strictly limited, however, and appears to be unlikely to be of use to those seeking transparency over the process of procurement at the earliest stages, when it really matters.

The way in which the major outsourcing companies go about securing contracts is a matter that evades scrutiny, and yet is of such fundamental significance. 

There are so few safeguards in place to monitor how such companies lobby for business, and yet the truth is that it is through a network of carefully nurtured contacts, and in the shadows of a world overseen by consultants and other third parties that the origins of many deals are conceived, whether in the private sector, or in partnerships between private suppliers and public sector services.

We know very well how, here in Barnet, a failure to apply any stringent regulations to manage the risk of conflict of interest during the tender process for One Barnet saw the movement of several senior officers between companies involved in the bidding and consultancy activities that underpinned the entire programme. The individuals concerned of course were in breach of no regulations, but the failure to manage the risk even of the perception of conflict of interest means that there was no transparency, no assurance of the integrity of the tender process, and no proper system of accountability in regard to the decisions which led to a £1 billion worth of contracts. 

Local government is perhaps becoming harder for the outsourcing companies to milk for profit, as so many large scale privatisations are proving unsustainable - fortunatelyfor them, if not for us, the NHS is in the process of being broken up and transformed into a new market opportunity for the private sector, and will provide the next source of lucrative contracts. 

It will be interesting to see how the major players go about sharing that out between themselves, won't it? In the meanwhile the game continues, with the major players playing strategically for a smaller share of this particular market.

In May 2011, before the One Barnet procurement began in earnest, Mrs Angry wrote the following post about a very interesting programme run by BT, called 'Vital Vision'

http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/only-connect-bt-and-cult-of-vital_14.html

This scheme identified leaders in public sector areas such as local and central government, the police, universities, and healthcare, took them on a couple of week long courses in the USA, gave them a couple of talks, wined and dined them, took them out to the theatre, and sending them home with their heads full of the joys of outsourcing, with one day top-up events to follow, to keep them on message, or as BT put it, and my emphasis again:

"After this initial induction year we run an alumni program of one-day events throughout the year. This ensures that we remain engaged and continue to leverage these relationships on an ongoing basis."

There is very little information on the internet regarding this programme, but you can still find the traces of one very revealing document accompanying a brief explanation of the general purpose, as explained here by then UK president of BT Global, Mark Quartermaine - (he left BT to join Capita IT Services in 2012, but lasted only six months in post).

Vital Vision, said Mr Quartermaine, is an opportunity to  'think laterally and expand one's own vision, while ultimately helping shape the future of the public sector'. 

He explained: 

'The goal is to explore current business thinking and how it can best be applied to Government. The process is enhanced by the quality of the participants, and the stimulating, interactive environment they create. It is designed to be 'of the participants, by the participants' and is most definitely not a sales event'. 


Most definitely not a sales event.  

Erm ... except that this assertion was contradicted by an accompanying document, withdrawn as soon as Mrs Angry published her original post on the subject, (fortunately she retains a copy) which someone had rather indiscreetly uploaded. This contains the details of more than forty individuals, all public sector leaders, in the expected areas of government, police, healthcare, and academia, nominated to attend the programme designated for 2005/6.


Alongside each of these names are the details of a contract opportunity allegedly represented by the individual targeted, with an estimated value, and probability of winning. Here is part of the table - click on it to enlarge:




The ‘total opportunity value’ of that year was £1.7 billion. 

This evidence contradicts the claim that Vital Vision was not a 'sales event'. And indeed the now withdrawn document went on to say:



 "A typical “Vital Visionary” is a forward thinking chief executive officer (CEO) or someone who is seen as on the “fast track” to CEO. They must be the kind of person who will shape the views of others and contribute their intellect unstintingly. This is key because this ensures that the impact of Vital Vision reaches far beyond those that actually attend. The participants design vital Vision so their contribution is a necessity – this is not a passive experience. The relationship impact is clearly documented here, with various examples from clients involved in the program and from BT senior managers responsible for those relationships. The revenue link is also clearly measured and demonstrated along with some unforeseen bonuses delivered by Vital Vision.

Let's repeat that last bit: ... The revenue link is also clearly measured ...

The introduction to the document also states, my emphasis: 

The program has now been measured in terms of the amount of business influenced and won and has indeed proven to be a run-away success far exceeding the original expectations.

Nominees for 2005/6 included many police chiefs, including the President of ACPO, and Andy Hayman, then Chief Constable of Norfolk Police, soon to be head of Specialist Operations at the Met, and in charge of the first hacking inquiry ... and many very senior civil servants from a range of government departments, including the Cabinet Office, and the heads of other bodies such as the defence communications procurement body DCSA. Also targeted were former  student loan chief Ed Lester, then head of NHS Direct - and ‘Daft Arrest’ chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, Mark James.


It is important to note that this list was of nominees only, individuals who may not have attended the course: indeed they may have known nothing at all about being targeted for sales in this way. 

In response to a recent Freedom of Information request enquiring about the nomination of Mark James, Carmarthenshire County Council clearly stated:

 “...the Council’s Chief Executive has not been involved in this programme and has not attended any of their events/training/hospitality”. 

And there is of course no suggestion that these nominated individuals, even if they had accepted BT’s invitation, or any participants in other years would knowingly and unfairly have favoured the company over any other bidder in a tender process: in fact in the case of central government, and all well run local authorities, all contracts would be subject to stringent procedures to safeguard the integrity of the procurement. 

Whether the same safeguards apply in other areas of the outsourcing market, and in new areas created by the NHS carve-up is a matter of less certainty. 

And this is a serious cause of concern for anyone who cares about the principles of transparency, and accountability in public life.

Due to the lack of information about the Vital Vision programme it is impossible to know the identity or numbers of all public sector heads who may have attended the courses and become what the company refers to as 'alumni' and 'visionaries'. But in the 2005/6 document BT boasted that 'example participants' included:


Managing Director London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham
Deputy Director SCRO (Scottish Criminal Record Office)
Chief Executive East Northamptonshire DC
Chief Executive OGC.bs
Commandant The Royal Military College of Science
IS Director and CIO Department of Works & Pensions
Director of Education & Cultural Services Lincolnshire Local Education Authority
Director of Finance and Procurement NHS Information Authority
Director Customer Services Scottish Water
Chief Executive Norfolk CC
Network Strategy Director Highways Agency
Director - MTI Office of the e-Envoy
Chief Executive Officer Solihull Primary Care Trust
Director National College for School Leadership (NCSL) &
Director of The National Remodelling Team (NRT)
Chief Executive Officer Kettering Borough Council
Head of Business Design Inland Revenue
Head of Enterprise and Industrial Affairs Scottish Executive Dept
Chief Executive Officer South Lanarkshire Council
Head Broadband and Internet Policy Team Department of Trade & Industry
Chief Executive Officer Advantage West Midlands
Chief Executive Officer Wakefield Metropolitan District Council (ex
Middlesbrough Council)
Director of HR Department of Health
President ACPO
Director 21st C Government
Chief Executive Officer London Leadership Centre
Chief Constable Durham Constabulary
Head of Finance & Central Services Scottish Executive
Director General Audit Commission for Wales
Director of Finance & Strategy Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
Director of Information Services Cardiff University
Chief Constable Norfolk Police
Head of Corporate Finance City of Edinburgh Council
Chief Executive Officer Huddersfield PCT
Chief Executive Officer London Development Centre for Mental Health
Director of Operations HM Land Registry
Director The National Remodelling Team (NRT)
CEO NHS Direct
Director NHS Wales
Chief Executive Officer Becta
Chief Executive Centre for Excellence in Leadership
Chief Executive Officer West Midlands South Strategic Health Authority
Director Scottish Forum for Modern Government
Vice Principal, Robert Gordon University The Robert Gordon University
Chief Executive Officer Scottish Enterprise
Chief Executive Officer Hillingdon Trust
Chief Executive East Sussex DC
Chief Executive Officer Nottingham City Council
Chief Executive Officer NHS Confederation
Chief Constable Thames Valley Police
Director of Local Government Practice ODPM
Finance Director Greater Manchester Strategic Health Authority
Director, Technologies in Health Group NHS Modernisation Agency
Clinical IS Development Lead National Cancer Research Network
Director of Strategy and Planning Department of Works & Pensions
Technical Services Director Maritime and coastguard agency
Director Central Customer PITO
E Envoy Office of the e-Envoy
Director General, Strategy & Logistics Development Defence Logistics Organisation
CEO North East London Strategic Health Authority
Chief Executive Watford MBC
IS, IT Director Department of Works & Pensions
Director Strategy & Technical Development Headquarters Defence Communication Services Agency
Director of Marketing Communications Inland Revenue
Chief Constable West Midlands Police
Director of Programmes & Performance Department of Health
Chief Executive Officer East London & City Mental Health
Director of Strategy and Communications DfES
Director General Information MoD
Chief Executive Officer NHS Information Authority
Head of Public Service Reform Office of Public Service Reform
Deputy Chief Constable Thames Valley Police
Director of eGovernment Education and Local Government
Chief Constable Greater Manchester Police
Director of Housing Edinburgh City Council
DEC(AWB) Royal Navy
Chief Constable, Devon & Cornwall Constabulary Devon & Cornwall Const
Head of e-Government Unit Cabinet Office
CEO, PITO PITO
Head of IT Strategy Unit Foreign & Commonwealth Office


There are a few traces of Vital Vision alumni on the web, via FOI requests, which reveal for example that Sir Hugh Orde, the former head of police in Northern Ireland was a participant in 2007:



Rather surprisingly, perhaps,another very senior police officer, Peter Neyroud, then the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, who is on the 2005/6 nominated guest list, and has a letter of thanks included in the document, produced a recent review of police training in which he lists Vital Vision as a management programme suited for Chief Constables:


 'There are a variety of programmes available, including the top management programme at the National School of Government, the BT Vital Vision programme and programmes such as the Windsor Leadership Trust.'
  
Not sure we really want our senior police to be trained by BT, do we, or any private sector company dependent on public sector business? In fairness, he does stress the need for courses specifically directed at Chief Constables, but this demonstrates the extent to which BT has its feet well and truly planted in areas that should be entirely free of commercial influence.

Because of the secrecy surrounding the programme, we only know of the details of those nominees who decided to bill their public sector employers for the the cost of some of the expenses incurred by attending the Vital Vision courses. In order not to fall foul of the rules regarding hospitality, BT offered accommodation only (in Boston and San Francisco, for example) and participants were obliged to look elsewhere for the cost of flights. Some paid their own costs. Others expected the funds to come from the public purse.

Barnet's Tory MP Mike Freer, is an alumnus, attending the Vital Vision courses in Boston in March 2007 and San Francisco the following October, when he was Leader of Barnet Council. at a cost of more than £5,000 to the local taxpayer. His then Chief Executive, Leo Boland, also attended the programme, at a later date, and also claimed expenses for his trip. 

Freer's easycouncil prototype 'Futureshape' was launched in May 2008, hailed as an innovative model for local government, but it is more reasonable to assume that its roots lie in the new move to open up local government to a wider share of the outsourcing market, promoted largely, but not exclusively, through initiatives like BT's Vital Vision programme.

BT of course was one of the companies shortlisted for the larger of the two £1 billion outsourcing contract opportunity in Barnet, long after Freer's departure, but it is important to note that the wider benefits of Vital Vision are for the outsourcing market as a whole, rather than one company, and all the major players in this field seem happy enough to take their turns with contract opportunities, between the small pool of large scale suppliers that they represent.

And of course we cannot discuss BT, and its evangelical zeal in spreading the joys of outsourcing without mentioning its one time leading pastor, the ubiquitous Mr Max Wide, whose interesting career, via a pattern of secondments from BT to local authorities all over the country, has helped to spread the good word, and encourage the adoption of major outsourcing projects in so many local authorities. He has also worked awfully hard on behalf of 'Solace', the CEO's trade union and employment agency, becoming, according to the Local Government Chronicle annual list in 2011, one of the 50 most influential people in local government. Yes, he was one of the judges.

 http://www.lgcplus.com/Journals/3/Files/2011/4/11/LGC50%20Supplement.pdf  

- oh look, the document covered in BT logos - number 28, despite being one of the judges, telling us all about his pivotal role in 'easybarnet'. Hmm.

Here he was at a 'Vision' lunch, on 2008, with Leo Boland, keen to spread the message: http://tinyurl.com/qbg6zv8 Max, we learn, has worked with over 60 local authorities 'delivering change programmes'. Ah:  change programmes. We've got one of those now. Used to be called One Barnet, before that became a toxic brand. 

Busy Mr Wide was then seconded by BT to Suffolk, where former Chief Executive and Vital Vision alumnus Andrea Hill, paid a whopping ££218,592 per annum, was to come a cropper with her own new model for local government, the 'New Strategic Direction' - yes, a 'change programme' involving large scale outsourcing. Controversy was caused by a perceived conflict of interest - which she stoutly denied - between Ms Hill's BT connections and the renegotiation of a large BT contract.



Ms Hill left Suffolk in 2011, and Mr Wide left BT in 2012, to take up a post with iMPOWER, the consultants who with Agilisys, have 'advised' Barnet on the £1 billion outsourcing programme, and continue to advise Barnet, raking in millions of pounds in fees. And now Mr Wide is on his travels again, now we hear to Bristol, where he has taken a position as 'Strategic Director for Business Change', responsible for overseeing back office services, and helping to make the council more efficient and less costly. Back office services: we used to have those, before we had a 'change programme', and found ourselves sold to Capita for the next ten years, didn't we?

After writing about Vital Vision in 2011, the sales target document was withdrawn, and very little further was heard about the programme.

Curiousity about the sudden silence recently led Mrs Angry to a very interesting discovery, however.

Look at this - it seems Vital Vision is dead. Or maybe resting. 


But long live ... Future Vision, a programme with some awfully familiar characteristics, but now promoted by a body called 'The Leadership Centre' ...
 




"Future Vision is the Leadership Centre's flagship programme to help support public sector managerial and political leaders fundamentally transform their localities for the better. The programme has been developed and created using the combined experience and success of the Leadership Centre’s prestigious leadership development programme, formerly known as Leeds Castle and BT’s highlyregarded Vital Vision programme.




Inspiring local communities and creating a better

future for the people and places we represent

and serve takes ambitious leadership. The purpose

of Future Vision will be to help enable system change
through leadership development. We will work with
and support senior figures from across the public
sector to ensure place by place our public services
can overcome the challenges we face, together. 



The mechanism for system change will be the
Future Vision participants themselves; entrusted
as champions for change in their localities or
areas of responsibility. They will spearhead
parallel local programmes, under the banner
Local Vision – affecting real change around
real issues in their place. Collectively they will
raise the bar for the entire public sector and
the strong alumni network will create enduring
relationships across the public sector,
benefitting our communities’, long term.
Future Vision is designed for senior figures from
across the UK public sector, such as:

chief executives of local authorities, health bodies,

or chief constable



senior figures in national and devolved government

elected politicians; council leaders and police and
crime commissioners

senior figures in the private, voluntary and third
sectors.
The intensive programme is run over two residential
blocks and a series of one day events, and will offer
participants; exposure to some the best UK and
international thinking on leadership; and the
opportunity to explore together the major issues of
the day as well as pertinent scenarios of the future;
coupled with the space and expertise to work
collectively on the real challenges facing our
communities and the public sector as a whole". 

Same old guest list as Vital Vision - same old initiation ceremony - two residential blocks, and a series of one day events.

And at the bottom of the document we find the following, accompanied by a familiar logo:


Ah: the Leadership Centre. What is this body, you may be wondering? 


Take a look:  http://www.localleadership.gov.uk/about/
 
Let's see:

The Leadership Centre's role is to create the space for senior managers and politicians from across the public sector to think about the ambitions they have for their communities and how they can achieve them in order to fundamentally transform their localities for the better.

Not a bad idea: create a space where people can think. More than think: lead.

We believe it takes great leadership to create a thriving and prosperous community. ‘Leadership’ is all we do and our role is to help create great places to live by supporting local leaders to meet the specific challenges of effectively leading a place, rather than just their organisation. 

Aha. Leading a place, rather than an organisation. We used to have an organisation, a democratically elected council here in Broken Barnet, but now we have a place, instead. Sorry a Place, with a Director of Place. See - we would probably never have thought that up ourselves, would we?

The Leadership Centre is funded by the government department for Communities and Local Government. In April 2008 The Leadership Centre acquired charitable status as the Leadership Centre for Local Government. The Leadership Centre works closely with the Local Government Association, which collectively aims to support, promote and improve local government. 

So: a publicly funded body, with charitable status. 

And Future Vision?

Future Vision is the Leadership Centre's flagship national leadership development programme. It is designed for senior figures from across the public sector who are operating in an increasingly interdependent world. Future Vision has been developed using our experience and success of delivering political and managerial leadership development programmes for local government, health and other areas of the public sector, combined with input from our private sector partners. The year-long inaugural Future Vision programme, commencing in 2013, has a clear and uncompromising objective of enabling system change through leadership development.

And there is a baby Future Vision, called Local Vision.

The Chair of the Leadership Centre is Lord Peter Smith, leader of Wigan Council, and Vice President of the LGA, and the Director is Joe Simpson. According to the website, the Board of Trustees is as follows:

Cllr Lord Peter Smith, Chair (Leader, Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council)
Sir Bob Kerslake(Head of the Home Civil Service)
Baroness Cathy Bakewell
(Somerset County Council)
Kim Ryley (Chief Executive, Cheshire East Council)
Cllr Richard Stay (Chair, East of England RIEP)
Jan Sobieraj  (Managing Director of the NHS Leadership Academy)
Helen Bailey (Chief Operating Officer for Policing in London)


Mrs Angry was intrigued: Sir Bob Kerslake, the head of the Civil Service? Helen Bailey from MOPAC? Jan Sobieraj from the NHS leadership academy? 

Ah: but looking at the Charity Commission details for The Leadership Centre, there appear to be some discrepancies ... only four trustees listed, and not Sir Bob, Jan Sobieraj, or Helen Bailey. One name has been removed since Mrs Angry made enquiries, that of Joanna Simons, whose term as director ended in June last year. 

It is interesting to note that Helen Bailey, according to the MOPAC register of hospitality, declared that she had attended dinner/drinks at a Future Vision Public Sector Leadership development event on the 14th January 2013. Significantly she listed the provider as BT, not the Leadership Centre.

Also of importance is the fact that the Centre's accounts, as published on the Charity Commission website refer to Future Vision, but not to BT.


According to a Charity Commission spokesperson, changes to the trustee membership of charitable bodies must be made immediately, online, as soon as the change occurs. 

More significantly, perhaps, is the requirement for any commercial partner of a charitable body not to gain any benefit from its involvement. 

Should BT be using a charitable body to promote a programme so similar to its own previous Vital Vision scheme, which, as the withdrawn document demonstrates, was clearly used as part of its own marketing strategy?

And why should public money be used to support the Leadership Centre, when it is engaged in unaccountable activities in partnership with a commercial partner?

As the NHS market is being opened up to predatory private sector partners, is there not all the more reason to demand greater transparency from bodies like the Leadership Centre, funded through the LGA and therefore by Eric Pickles' own departmental budget, but in bed with one of the major outsourcing providers?

Mrs Angry asked the centre, via Mr Simpson, the following questions:
 
Can you tell me to what extent your partner BT is involved in this scheme?

Does it provide funding, for example? Is this necessary because your core funding has been reduced? How else does the partnership function - as regards training, access to resources and so on?

I would also be interested to know how many participants have been engaged on the course since its inception in January.


Mr Simpson did not reply.

Mrs Angry therefore turned her attention to the LGA, which funds the Leadership Centre, and publishes its expenditure over £500, some of which makes for very interesting reading, but is increasingly redacted as 'classified', rather in defiance of the need for transparency.  See here, via:




Mrs Angry made some enquiries with the Local Government Association, asking the following questions: 
 
1.What is the current level of funding from the LGA to The Leadership Centre (TLC), and has it been cut in the last two years?

2.To what extent does the LGA monitor the expenditure of the Leadership Centre - is it aware, for example, of the identity of the increasing number of redacted payments, 'classified' on the alleged grounds of personal data,  over the last year?

3.Does TLC have a conflict of interest policy to regulate the nature of its expenditure?

4.What is the precise nature of the relationship between TLC and BT?

5.When was this partnership formalised, and what are the terms of the agreement?

6.Does TLC have similar arrangements with other companies?

7.Does BT or any other partner make a financial contribution or offer other resources to TLC?

8.Clearly, as stated in TLC's own online documents, the 'Future Vision' programme is based on BT's 'Vital Vision' scheme, which was used to market its services to  public sector leaders but appears to have disappeared from view. To what extent does BT have access to participants in the 'Future Vision' programme?

9.How is this partnership compatible with the charitable status of The Leadership Centre, and indeed the need for transparency and accountability?

10.What safeguards are there to ensure that BT does not benefit commercially or in any other way from its involvement in 'Future Vision', which would be in conflict with this charitable status?

11.Was the payment of £16,466 to the Hilton Boston Back Bay Hotel in October connected in any way with BT and/or 'Future Vision'? What was the full purpose of the expenditure?

12.Why does the list of trustees on The Leadership Centre's website not correspond with the the details registered with the Charity Commission - and details listed at Companies House?

13.Is Sir Bob Kerslake, the head of the Civil Service, really a trustee, and if so, why is he not listed with the Charity Commission?

14.Likewise Jan Sobieraj, head of the NHS Leadership Academy, and Helen Bailey from MOPAC. Joanna Simons is listed as a trustee, but would appear to have stood down from the Board in June.

15.According to a spokesperson at the Charity Commission yesterday, updates to details of the Charity must be made immediately online at the time the change occurs, and as the Leadership Centre announced the Board was being 'refreshed' in July, one can only conclude there has been a clear failure to comply with this requirement. Was the LGA aware of this failure to comply, and if not, should it not have a policy of more closely monitoring the bodies to which it allocates public funding?


A helpful press assistant at the LGA did her best: eventually two questions were answered by Helen Platts, the LGA’s Head of Finance and Business Management, but for the rest, the buck was passed back to the Leadership Centre -


I can confirm that the Leadership Centre is part of a wider group of organisations including the LGA and the IDeA which share the same purpose. In the interests of transparency the supplier payments for all the organisations in the group are published on the LGA’s website.


Although its overall goals are aligned with the other organisations in the group, the Leadership Centre operates as an independent organisation with its own Board of Trustees.


Given this, it would not be appropriate for the LGA to answer the questions you have raised in relation to the Leadership Centre’s operations. 
I can confirm that I have passed these questions on to the Leadership Centre.

Mrs Angry pointed out the Leadership Centre had not responded to earlier questions. But then a week later a response did emerge, from a Mr John Jarvis:
 Many thanks for your questions regarding the Leadership Centre. I understand that the LGA has responded to your first two questions therefore please find responses for question 3 onwards below.

3.Does TLC have a conflict of interest policy to regulate the nature of its expenditure?


**The Leadership Centre complies with all charity rules including those around conflict of interest.

4.What is the precise nature of the relationship between TLC and BT?


**BT is a partner of the Future Vision programme supporting the running and development of the pan public sector leadership development programme.


5.When was this partnership formalised, and what are the terms of the agreement?


**The partnership was agreed in May 2013. BT make a financial and in kind contribution to the programme including knowledge, information and in kind support allowing the Leadership Centre to offer an unparalleled leadership development opportunity to senior leaders across the public sector.

6.Does TLC have similar arrangements with other companies?

**The Leadership Centre by the very nature of its cross cutting pan public sector work collaborates with many public sector organisations and occasionally where appropriate private sector partners.


7.Does BT or any other partner make a financial contribution or offer other resources to TLC?

**Please see answers to questions 5 & 6.

8.Clearly, as stated in TLC's own online documents, the 'Future Vision' programme is based on BT's 'Vital Vision' scheme, which was used to market its services to public sector leaders but appears to have disappeared from view. To what extent does BT have access to participants in the 'Future Vision' programme?

**Future Vision is a brand new programme which has been specifically designed for senior figures from across the public sector which is run by The Leadership Centre in partnership with BT.

9.How is this partnership compatible with the charitable status of The Leadership Centre, and indeed the need for transparency and accountability?

**The Leadership Centre complies with its articles of association and objects therein.

10.What safeguards are there to ensure that BT does not benefit commercially or in any other way from its involvement in 'Future Vision', which would be in conflict with this charitable status?

**There is no ability for BT to directly market. Please see answers to questions 3, 8 & 9.


11.Was the payment of £16,466 to the Hilton Boston Back Bay Hotel in October connected in any way with BT and/or 'Future Vision'? What was the full purpose of the expenditure?

**The payment was for accommodation for Future Vision participants. The Centre in turn receives payment from participants to cover their accommodation costs.

12.Why does the list of trustees on The Leadership Centre's website not correspond with the the details registered with the Charity Commission - and details listed at Companies House?

13.Is Sir Bob Kerslake, the head of the Civil Service, really a trustee, and if so, why is he not listed with the Charity Commission?


14.Likewise Jan Sobieraj, head of the NHS Leadership Academy, and Helen Bailey from MOPAC. Joanna Simons is listed as a trustee, but would appear to have stood down from the Board in June.

15.According to a spokesperson at the Charity Commission yesterday, updates to details of the Charity must be made immediately online at the time the change occurs, and as the Leadership Centre announced the Board was being 'refreshed' in July, one can only conclude there has been a clear failure to comply with this requirement. Was the LGA aware of this failure to comply, and if not, should it not have a policy of more closely monitoring the bodies to which it allocates public funding?


**Trustees are changed on occasion to reflect the business of the Leadership Centre. The process of invitation, responses, registration and updating the relevant authorities is continuing as new trustees are being appointed.


A very interesting response. 

The agreement with BT was not formalised until May, although Future Vision had been launched in January. BT has provided an unspecified amount of money, contribution 'in kind' - and 'kind support' - to the Centre. How much funding is there, we wonder? 

As Mrs Angry suspected, Future Vision is hosting courses in Boston - and elsewhere, just like Vital Vision, with the same sort of invited guests as the previous programme. 

If it is a new programme, what are the differences between Future Vision, and Vital Vision, other than that the new scheme is operating behind the front of a charitable body, funded by the public purse, with even less transparency? 'There is no ability for BT to directly market'. That's what they said about Vital Vision - not a sales event. 

Direct marketing, or indirect marketing, or not: should a charitable body, or a body that is publicly funded, allow itself to be in a position where it might appear to be providing access to potential clients for a commercial partner? 

There appears to be no adequate mitigation of the perception of the conflict of interest, let alone the risk of activities incompatible with the charitable status. And there is no response to the question about the discrepancy between the trustees listed on the Centre's website, and the details registered with the Charity Commission, which is why the Commission has now launched an investigation into the matter, a step which is not taken lightly, and the result of which Mrs Angry will publish in due course. 

4 comments:

Scotch Hopper said...

Fascinating! Scary! I would love to know what links exist between Future Vision and Common Purpose. The latter's recruiting arm - Common Purpose 360 - played a major role in staffing Barnet's senior executive appointments and continues to do so!
'Leading beyond authority'....

Mrs Angry said...

If you say so, Scotch Hopper: do email any evidence of interest ... as for links with CP, I think it is probably more boringly that the same familiar faces get themselves about a bit. But who know?

Anonymous said...

I didn't go for conspiracy theories until I dipped my toes into the murky waters of local government. Now I know these connections abound and are a nasty element of a very nasty entity.

Mrs Angry said...

Yes, indeed, Anonymous: it seems to me that local government is a perfect breeding ground for all sorts of disreputable activity, and the outsourcing market is open game, due to the cover of 'commercial sensitivity' whenever awkward questions are asked. Conflicts of interest abound, unmonitored, and there is effectively no process to oversee potential breaches in the weak structure of regulation that does exist. The external audit system is impotent. If Pickles really cares about open government, he will look at the real obstacles to transparency, and stop tinkering with the few safeguards that we have, or had.