Sunday 22 May 2016

Barnet's Performance and Contract Management Committee - 20 Questions

On 31 May is Barnet's quarterly Performance and Contract Management Committee. The papers have been published in advance of the meeting  which you can read here. Having spent 5 hours reading all of the reports I have submitted a list of questions which I have set out below:

In relation to agenda item 8 Appendix H

  • Please can you clarify how the reduction in Single Person Discount is calculated to arrive at the net figure and, for example, is a saving made in 2015/16 treated as an on-going saving for the purposes of gainshare calculation or just a one off saving for that year only. 
  • Please can you clarify how the Additional Council Tax Income  is calculated to arrive at the net figure. To what extent is the additional income from the additional 2,732 households treated as part of the calculation and why is 100% of the net income paid to Capita in Gainshare. 
  • Can you clarify if Capita have achieved the 98.5% council tax collection rate and how that impacted on the Gainshare payment.  
  • Why did you set a guarantee target in 2015/16 that is £3.3 million lower than for 2014/15 when recurring savings on renegotiated contract continue to attract gainshare payments for Capita?
In relation to agenda item 8 Appendix H(iii)
  • Please could you clarify of what the £242,615.87 true up payment comprises?
In relation to agenda item 8 Appendix I
  • Who authorised the spend of £276,094 for an accelerated refresh of employee computing devices so all devices are refreshed after 18 months instead of 5 years. Was the procurement handled by Capita and did they generate a gainshare saving on this purchase?
  • Please can you clarify what the £9.7 million contract true up of third party contracts comprises?
  • For the library service call cost of £453,000 what does that work out per call?
In relation to agenda item 8 Appendix J
  • How many letters of action have been received in the last 6 months and how does that reconcile with the risk - Resident Engagement - ORG0029 being rated as medium to low 
  • Risk  - Increasing costs of Adult Social Care - ORG0042  states that there is a risk that the pressure on Adults budgets caused by increasing demographics and complexity will not be contained within existing budgets and the risk matrix suggests the probability of this happening is “unlikely”. Do you think that is an accurate reflection of the current situation
In relation to agenda item 8 Appendix J
  • Do you really think that extending the NSL contract till October 2018 sends the right signal to Barnet residents given the parking contracts scores so badly on the resident satisfaction survey
In relation to agenda item 12
  •  In light of the referral from Audit Committee and given that Internal Audit recently said:

a)    There is a lack of formal documentation held by the Council of the first line defence activities operating at Capita. For example, this may include access to procedure manuals to assess whether the control framework in place mitigates the Council’s key risks. This was highlighted as a finding in relation to the accounts payable process where there was no up to date procedure document in place.
b)    That currently Internal and External Audit activities provide the only evaluation of the design and operation of the controls in place within Capita processes to mitigate the Council’s key risks... These form part of the third line of defence in the assurance framework. This testing approach is generally retrospective and would only identify issues after they have occurred, possibly a significant period of time following the initial non-compliance. We did not see evidence of real time monitoring of the operation of Capita controls.
c)     Although some second line management oversight activities were found to be operating effectively, there are some second line activities which are currently recorded as the ‘first line’ of activities within the Commercial team’s analysis. These should be moved within the updated version of the assurance map.
They also noted thatperformance management information is not independently validated by the Council” and that “not all SRO’s have an allocated deputy. Placing reliance on one individual may result in contingency issues when officers leave the Council either permanently or for extended periods”
On that basis are you sure that the clienting arrangements are satisfactory?

In relation to agenda item 12
  • Do you think it is appropriate for Council Senior Responsible Officers to be commissioned to assess delivery of the contract against outcome specifications, method statements and contractual commitments given that they are fulfilling this role already. While it will undoubtedly be useful to take their evidence surely it would be more appropriate for someone independent such as internal audit or an external body to make that assessment of delivery?
  • Please can you clarify the contents of the benchmarking survey and can you confirm that it will also include examples from private sector partnerships?
  • Will any members’ working group meetings be open to the public?
  • When will the public engagement take place and what steps are you going to take to ensure that the public are actively involved in the process?
  • Who will be responsible for reconciling whether the commitments set out in Schedule 35 of the contract have been delivered?
  • What contingency plans have been made to consider terminating part or all of the contract if the 3 year review is unsuccessful and agreement on changes cannot be reached?
  • When will you be taking evidence from the Leadership Panel?
  • Will you be publishing Capita’s proposals of new opportunities for improving service quality and reducing costs throughout the Contract Period?

I will update you after I receive answers to my questions.

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