Monday, 1 August 2011

Barnet Council Datagate Scandal - "Not none of them really know what there role is on any of these projects"

One of the reasons the bloggers of Barnet have proven so effective in exposing the utter crapness of Barnet Council, is because we work together and share information. I am endebted to Mrs Angry at the Broken Barnet blog to pointing out something that little old me missed whilst reviewing the "action plan" from Barnet Council, which was disclosed in response to a (sort of) FoI request last week.

If you want to know just how bad things are at Barnet Council, the title of this blog forms part of an action plan, written to address the mess which the Barnet Conservative administration has landed us in.

You can read the whole action plan here - - the text in the title is in the issues section. It forms part of the second bullet point in the application support section. The whole text is as follows :-
Staff and Team Leaders involved in a huge amount of projects  with the business not none of them really know what there role is on any of these projects.
 Lets consider this a bit more carefully. I'm dyslexic, so I missed the awfulness of what was written, until pointed out by Mrs A. I then showed my wife, who has a language degree. Her response? "Did you write that?". No, I replied, that is part of an official council action plan. Now just think this through. Who wrote the action plan, which is dealing with some of the most fundamental problems in the council? Now I'd hope that such an important report would be written by a senior council official. Maybe it was written by a highly paid, expert consultant on £1,500 a day? I don't know, I've asked the question in a follow up FoI question. Whoever wrote it, I'd say it's pretty worrying, wouldn't you. But that isn't the half of it. This report was issued to address fundamental problems within the Council. Again, I don't know what they do with these reports, but one would assume they circulate them for review, prior to issue. Presumably people are paid to check them and make sure they are correct. Who reviews them? Highly paid Council officials? Highly paid counsultants? Now I'd assume that they would want to get the report right, wouldn't you. What does this report tell me? That either the people who reviewed the document are all semi literate or that they didn't actually bother to read it. Now consider this. All of these people are PAID by the taxpayer to write reports and review them. What does this tell you? My assumption is that the report was reviewed by senior people on high salaries. Wouldn't you?

This action plan is meant to be the answer to the IT problems in Barnet Council. Who recieved it when it was issued? The senior manager who commissioned it should have read it and sent it back with red ink all over it. He should have checked the timesheet of everyone who was meant to review it and called them to account. Did Barnet Council CEO, Mr Nick Walkley read the report? Did he think it was ok? Do we have a Council who are so shoddy that that this is OK? Well Mr Walkley, do you think it's OK? I don't.  Did the senior officers who get paid over £100,000 per annum and saw it think it OK?

I sent the following FOI request to Barnet yesterday, because this is important. We are paying people a fortune and they are clearly not doing their job to a professional standard, are they? I want to know exactly who they are. I want to know how much they were paid. Why? Because I am a taxpayer and I'm paying them. Is it too much to ask that the people who's wages I pay do their job properly?

I've long suspected that teams of highly paid consultants spend all day writing reports, knowing no one will ever read them properly. I've no idea if this is true, but can there be any other explanation for such a grammatically awful sentence in one of the most important documents produced by Barnet Council.

When it comes down to it, accidents happen when people don't pay attention to detail (Iceland, Aerodrome Road, Metpro). I've long wondered why the OneBarnet project has achieved so little and cost so much. I happen to believe I now know the answer. I ask one question. If this is action plan shows the level of accuracy Barnet are prepared to accept in such an important document, what on earth will happen when they start writing contracts for the £750 million One Barnet contract, which is currently being tendered. Lord help us all.

This is my FOI request (and apologies for all the bad grammar above)

----- Original Message -----
From: Roger Tichborne
To: FOI Barnet
Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2011 2:04 PM
Subject: Re: Freedom of Information Request - Council Action Plans

Dear Ms Humphreys
Thank you for the information.
I have a further request. Please can you supply the following information regarding IS Plan action Final (redacted).pdf
Please can you supply the following (regarding the source document, not the redacted one you supplied me) :-
Who prepared this report
What costs were incurred in preparing the report
Who was on the original circulation list for the report
On what date was the report issued
Would the document have been seen by the Leader of the Council, Barnet Council CEO, Head of Audit, Head of Legal, prior to being released in redacted form to me as an FOI request

Roger Tichborne


Mr Mustard said...

I agree with you Roger. The basic idea of checking something before issue just does not happen in Barnet hence the errors that Mr Reasonable and I have highlighted in figures in reports and the fact that the Council don't know whether the pub is to the east or the west of Church Farmhouse.

Whilst riding his motorbike to the racetrack yestersay Mr Mustard had some time for thinking and he decided that many of the councillors are like those nodding dogs that you used to see in the rear window of cars.

Ron said...

Open the file, press the File tab, then Properties, select Description, and voilĂ , it's ChMartin