Friday, 26 April 2013

The One Barnet Consultant's bill hits £6.3 million

In February our dear friends Agilisys, who are helping Barnet Council implement One Barnet  billed a rather modest £55,244.55. At the time I wondered if we had seen the end of their huge six figure bills. Today Barnet have published (early) the supplier payments for March and surprise, surprise Agilisys have come back with force, billing the grand sum of £460,228.20 for the month, Interestingly, only one invoice for £990 is allocated to the One Barnet programme. Perhaps that is how certain councillors can get away with saying One Barnet hasn't cost that much but it fools no one.

In the financial year 2012-13 Barnet Council have paid Agilisys £3,513,760.99 - yes £3.5 million in one year to one firm of consultants and it brings the total paid to Agilisys to £6,324,366.68 since the start of the One Barnet implementation contract.

Back in July 2012 I raised the issue of Agilisys costs with Barnet’s external auditors, Grant Thornton. This included:

That councillors had been led to believe this contract was going to cost around £2 million and that it looked like on present spending it was going to cost £6 million. As such, were officers legally allowed to exceed this budget by so much without getting further approval for the spending by Councillors and did this make that spending ultra vires.
On the first point the auditor said, 
“With regard to your point on the level of spend, it is clear that the £2 million figure is an indicative one.  The Council's 2010/11 budget estimates costs of setting up the programme and projects at £3 million. The spend to date on the contract is approaching £4 million. Although ongoing spend and value for money is monitored by the Council's Corporate Directors' Group, there is nothing in the Council's constitution that requires the reporting back to members for this contract on the basis that there is no maximum contract value set. From the review of working papers, I am satisfied that there is no need for me to take formal legal advice as to the legality of the £4 million contract as I have not seen evidence that the council has acted outside of its powers. Based on these findings, I have concluded that the Council has followed its own rules in terms of the nature and level of spend under this contract and that there is no legality issue that would impact on my ability to certify the 2011/12 audit closed.”
The Auditor added as a footnote,

“I have discussed your second point around the governance of the level of spend on the contract and the Council agrees that it would be good practice to take an update report to the Cabinet Resources Committee. The Council is drafting this report which will update members on the level of spend to date, revised projections for level of spend over the three year period of the contract, value for money considerations (including an update on improved terms negotiated by the Council this year) and plans for the procurement of further support when the current contract ends next year. The report is planned to go to Cabinet Resources Committee at the end of September.”
Well Mr Hughes, was that September 2012 or September 2013 because as far as I can see no report on this matter has as yet been sent to the Cabinet Resources Committee.   12 months on and we have gone way past the £6 million mark yet not one councillor has formally raised the issue of such a massive overspend. 
Personally I think that this is nothing short of a scandal. How a £2 million contract can hit £6.3 million and no one, other than members of the public, asks any questions, is beyond me.


  1. You are absolutely right, Mr Reasonable: this is (yet another) scandalous waste of taxpayers' money. There is no other term for such profligacy.

  2. Fees paid to Agilisys also include their implementation partners (or something like that) iMpower (hopefully I have capitalised the correct letter - poncy stupid name) from whom we have the inestimable James Mass on secondment. It was James you may recall who put 250,000 in a report to CRC which should have read £20,000 and so I am wondering if the same has happened to invoices submitted? If a councillor was required to sign them off, would they notice? or does an Agilisys consultant sign off invoices for iMpower?