Well the Internal Audit report into the MetPro Scandal is out and it doesn't make pleasant reading. It is a catalougue of failures to stick to council procedures. It states:
"No procurement exercise had been undertaken to appoint MetPro, in accordance with the Council’s Contract Procedure Rules (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.
In the absence of a formal procurement exercise, we could not locate the following documents/confirmation for MetPro, which the CPR require:
- Financial viability of the company
- Equal Opportunities Assessment
- Criminal Records Bureau checks
- Confirmation of company’s Public Liability Insurance arrangements
- Confirmation of the company’s Health and Safety registration
- Confirmation on the SIA licence status of the Company Officers
- An agreed specification which outlined the service to be provided
- An agreed schedule of rates for payment of invoices
- A process for monitoring performance of service delivery to establish if the Council was receiving value for money.
There has been a failure to comply with the Council’s Policies and Procedures with regards to roles and responsibilities. Officers interviewed had assumed a corporate contract was in place and relevant checks on MetPro had therefore been undertaken. Recently, from September 2010, assurance was given to officers we interviewed that a corporate contract was being procured by the CPT as they were aware at that time that no contract was in place with MetPro. At the time of writing this report this procurement exercise had not started, however a detailed specification existed."
Not only that, but it appears that when MetPro changed from Rapid Response to Emergency Response, they gave an invalid VAT number. This may result in the Council facing penalties for the overrecovery of output VAT and as a result there has to be a review carried out to calculate the exact figure the Council has overpaid VAT on MetPro and to immediately contact HMRC.
What the report fails to mention is that this inquiry only happened because of the persistence of the bloggers of Barnet who forced the council to consider the evidence they had identified. If it hadn't been for the half a dozen concerned citizens, there is a good chance that MetPro would still be in place, without licenses and in breach of VAT regulations.
What this report also does not identify is who is to blame and how many other suppliers are operating in breach of council procurement policies. Reading this report I think any reasonable person would be calling for heads to roll and an immediate embargo on any further outsourcing until there is clear evidence that adequate systems are not only in place but are actually being used.