Friday 21 December 2012

Capita Week - Day 5 - Swindon

In 2009 Swindon Council's Internal Audit department published a report into the contract management of Capita. The report can be downloaded here.

Some of the issues identified in the report were as follows:
  • There have been prolonged performance issues with some services that have not always been resolved on a timely basis. In the case of the Benefits Service, continued performance failures against contractual targets have not been clearly escalated to the Partnership Executive for resolution, where service performance has not increased to contracted levels.
  • Key Performance Indicators are produced to measure performance of all transferred services. However, there are significant wider contractual obligations in the service output specifications that must also be delivered by Capita. There is not a consistent method of monitoring whether the partner is delivering these wider obligations.
  • It was also found that, in some areas, the client is spending time carrying out activities that should be managed by Capita. The Council needs to resolve these issues, through escalation if necessary and then benchmark the client function to determine if it is under, or over, resourced.
  • There is currently little validation of KPIs reported by the partner, but there is evidence of this taking place in Revenues and Benefits and Customer Services. There are three KPIs that are still not being reported, two years into the contract date, due to ongoing issues with management information.
  • The Auditor obtained reports on the implementation of similar strategic Capita partnerships in Southampton and Blackburn with Darwen Councils and noted that these Authorities have   experienced very similar issues in contract/relationship management and service delivery.
  • It is not clear whether all output specifications that were produced during the final stage of the contract negotiations are still relevant and are an effective mechanism to manage Capita service delivery against.
  • The Head of ICT has stated that he does not have the resource to check the number of PC’s replaced by Capita, that are charged to the Council each month as part of the PC replacement programme. This charge can be in excess of £100k each month, depending on the number of PCs claimed. The value of the supply is approximately £400k per annum, which is £6m over the life of the contract.

Some of the risks identified in the report include:
  • The Council pays for PCs that have not actually been replaced.
  • Focus is on delivery of KPIs and other contract obligations are not met by the Partner 
  • The Council does not know if the overall required level of service is being delivered. 
  • The Council pays for services that are not received.
Now overall this report suggests there are problems on both sides. What worries me is that in a contract of the size One Barnet, unless the Council are all over Capita, we may see exactly the same problems arise. That fact that the Internal Audit found that Southampton and Blackburn had experienced similar problems in contract management and service delivery as Swindon suggests that Barnet may also experience those problems. Given that Barnet are operating to the "thin client" model where monitoring resources are very limited if I were a betting man I would say it looks odds on that these problems will occur.

Experience leads me to have no confidence in Barnet's ability to monitor this contract successfully and therefore I suspect that role will yet again fall to the concerned residents rather than the senior officers or councillors who are rewarded handsomely for this role. We will all need to be all over Capita and the Councillors to ensure that residents get the services we need rather than what we are served up.


  1. And please note, Capita and councillors: the Barnet blogosphere and residents' groups WILL be 'all over you', to remind you at every point that the residents of this borough are not going to tolerate a decline in standards of service,any failure to deliver what has been promised, or any further incompetence on behalf of the Tory council administration.

    1. Oh yes Mrs A. Scrutiny will definitely ratchet up a notch or four, FOI's will flow forth, Conservative Councillors will find their in boxes full to the brim. There will be no hiding place and no settling for second best.