The Barnet Eye has raised major issues regarding conflicts of interest with the outsourcing of Barnet legal to the London Borough of Harrow. It seems that Barnet Unison have identified another issue. The it infrastructure for Harrow is provided by Capita, one of the bidders for the One Barnet program. This means that Capita may have access to confidential legal documents held on the Harrow Council system, which refer to Barnet. It is also likely that in the case of legal disputes between Barnet Council and Capita, if the oustourcing proceeds, that Capita will be running the systems where Barnet's confidential legal papers concerning the dispute will be held. Of course the Union have a vested interest in the issue, but that does not mean that the concerns they raise can be ignored. There seems to be a rather disturbing (and frankly intellectually unsound) policy among Barnet Council Conservatives of ignoring criticisms of One Barnet because they perceive the person raising the issue as "left wing". This is an intellectually bankrupt approach. A truly Conservative regime is pragmatic and open to ideas. Winston Churchill once famously commented that "Labour Government come up with good ideas and Conservative Governments make them work" in response to criticisms of his governments treatment of the NHS. Sadly in Barnet, "left wing" commentators come up with valid concerns and Consevative administrators stick their fingers in their ears and shout "la la la" very loudly.
Here is what the Barnet Unison website says about the issue.
From the Barnet Unison Website
The outsourcing saga of Barnet Council Legal Services to Harrow Council continues. The likely date of transfer to Harrow could be early August. The target date was 2 July, but that was before the #Spartacus revolt and plans of the new Harrow Legal Service revealed.
Yesterday staff were informed the new name of the service will reflect the shared service ethos,......?.
There were two issues that are causing concern.
The first is how are the Barnet Council going to overcome the tricky issue of Capita?
Capita currently provide IT services for Harrow Council. Barnet Legal services are currently advising all of the One Barnet projects and using Barnets IT service. They will still have to support the One Barnet projects after they transfer to Harrow, BUT then they will be using IT services provided by Capita.
Capita Group and Capita Symonds are bidding for both outsourcing contracts worth up to £billion pounds.
The staff were told a solution is being worked on.......
The second issue concerns contract monitoring.
UNISON has been concerned about the lack of transparency and requested a copy of the Due diligence which has taken place to support the business case.
UNISON was informed there is no actual Due diligence document. UNISON asked if there was a Due diligence template and was told No.
UNISON asked how the Council was going to ensure the new shared service was going to deliver Value for Money for Barnet residents.
At first UNISON was reminded of the joint strategic board which includes both chief executives). UNISON was already aware of this and asked who would actually monitoring of the contract. Furthermore UNISON asked if the council would monitor outcome or outputs (sorry readers if you now fall asleep).
UNISON was informed that the Council was going to monitor outcomes &outputs and a contract manager would be appointed.
UNISON asked if this was one of the posts in the recent chief executive restructure and was told it was a separate post.
At the Legal services briefing yesterday UNISON asked when this post was being advertised. Staff were informed that they were still working on the details, but they could confirm it was a level four post which makes it a Head of Service post.
UNISON found this strange as the Chief Executives restructure involves all posts level four to level six. The Council has already started assessing staff for the new posts in the Chief Executives restructure and understands some staff have been successful and others not. The Legal Services Contract Monitoring post has not been made available for staff to apply........more later...