Two things cropped up this week which are a good illustration of just how far we have come over the last year or so in dealing with the challenges facing all local authorities, and just how far we still have to go.
The Local Government Chronicle ran a piece this week which seemed surprised how far One Barnet has progressed so quickly and remarked just how far ahead of other councils we seem to be in facing up to the challenges ahead.
But, less positively, two reports, to go to Audit Committee next week, covering our procurement procedures found real failings in how tightly we manage contracts.
One covers the Metpro security contract in Barnet House (and other buildings) and the second covered our procurement procedures in general. Both of these found failings in how we control contracts. Both are very solid pieces of work by the council’s own internal audit unit. It is very important that our internal control and governance arrangements are robust and challenge us to improve where that is necessary.
While One Barnet is progressing, we need to make sure that we stay focussed on our day to day procurement and that we meet consistently all of the standards expected of a public body.
We will announce plans next week on just how we propose to do this.
Funny: this is the headline in the Local Government Chronicle that I thought Mr Travers was going to tell us about, from the 8th June:
Barnet panned over £1.4m contract fiasco
Barnet LBC failed to comply with its own rules when handing out a million pound contract exposing the council to ‘significant financial and reputational risk’, according to the council’s audit committee.
The damning report said no procurement exercise was undertaken to appoint security firm, Metpro, for which the council has paid £1.4m over five years, and that “officers cannot …give assurances that this will not happen again”.
It said: “The council has failed to comply with its Contract Procedure Rules (CPR) and financial regulations, exposing the council to significant reputational and financial risks.
“No procurement exercise had been undertaken to appoint MetPro, in accordance with the council’s CPR.
“No written contract between the council and MetPro could be found. There is no record of an approval and authorisation for the use of MetPro for providing security services.
“Although we cannot rule out fraud, there have been no allegations of fraud and there is no evidence to suggest that there should be a fraud investigation.”
See the full report here
The council is currently in the process of tendering for contracts for its back office services and regulatory services collectively worth over half a billion pounds – see LGC tomorrow for more.
The report follows media reports last month that Metpro was to be investigated by a government watchdog after it emerged that it was not properly licensed.Barnet cabinet member for resources and performance Daniel Thomas (Con) said: “Contract management is an area we need to tighten up on which is exactly why we have this report. We now need to put in place a clear programme of improvement to match those we ran in these other services.”
Andrew Travers, as well as being Deputy Chief Executive, is the borough's Chief Finance officer and he is paid £1,000 a day to oversee the financial organisation of the London Borough of Broken Barnet.
Worth every f*cking penny, I'd say, wouldn't you, citizens?
One Barnet: "a relentless drive for efficiency" - and "better services for less money".
But not amongst the corporate fat cats of Broken Barnet, eh?