Monday, 7 June 2010

An Example of the Worst Kind of Portfolio Decision

Apparently NCC needs a project manager to carry out a 'corporate transport review', whatever that means. You know what's coming next don't you? Yes, they are going to bring in a consultant.

However, this is a particularly poor piece of decision making and the portfolio holder's decision itself is, frankly, an insult to the principle of accountability.

So, what's wrong with this decision then? Well, the first thing is that Cllr Jane Urquart (for it is she) has agreed to dispense with the normal financial regulations which usually require three tenders for a contract. Schemes worth over £50k appear to have quite involved tender procedures (see pp47-48 of the financial regs). Portfolio holders are allowed to dispense with the financial regs when there are 'justifiable reasons' to do so and in consultation with the Chief Financial Oficer (see p16).

However, where are the 'justifiable reasons' here? We are simply told that the chosen one, a Bill Trattles of 'WGT Facility Solutions' has extensive experience of corporate transport reviewin' and that he'll be a 'catalyst' for blah blah blah.

Ok, so he may well know his job but maybe there is someone who is better for the same price? Or as good but cheaper? Or who can do it in a quicker time? Is the need so urgent that there is no time to look for anyone else? Why do we need Bill?

The mention of price brings me to another of this decision's failings; it doesn't say how much is to be spent. This is crucial. What's the point of publishing these decisions if it's not that the public can see how much of their money is being spent as well as on what?

Interestingly, do a search for WGT Facility Solutions and you get this*. Very informative, I don't think. A search for Billy T himself seems to suggest yet another ex council manager setting up on his own and trading off his old contacts. No need for a proper website or other marketing, just pop down the golf club for a bit of word of mouth. Not dissimilar to Mr Harold Tinworth in this respect, one can't help wondering.

This failure to mention the cost has happened before but this decision represents a nadir in accountability and suggests that portfolio holders feel quite comfortable with taking the piss.

Related news; in another case of suspected dodgy portfolio holder decision making our old mate Hassan Ahmed has issued a decision (see #704) entitled -

"Approval To Tendering Process for Procurement of External Human Resource Consultant Facilities for Staff Arising From Single Status Implementation"

I suspect this is something to do with his mad scheme to provide 'legal advice' (now rebranded as 'external human resource consultant facilities' it seems) for employees on single status, in a move that clearly isn't designed to undermine the unions at all. I use the word 'suspect' because the decision document has not actually been published. No explanation given for this whatsoever. I did email asking why but haven't had a reply as yet, will let you know if I get one.

Update 8 June - the decision is now up. While it is clearly connected to the single status negotiations it isn't to do with the 'legal advice' bit but is concerning recruiting a bunch of people to negotiate with employees who refuse to accept the nice shiny new considerably worse than before terms and conditions. You see, if someone doesn't agree for their contract to be changed for the worse, NCC intends to dismiss them but immediately re-engage them on these worse conditions anyway but they are legally required to 'consult' with each employee before they do so.

This is a legally dubious method of imposing new terms and conditions (e.g. what is the reason for dismissal which is required for it not to be unfair?) and relies on people realising that the alternative is not to have a job anymore. The County did the same thing when they went through the process a few years back.

*Not long after I posted this that website had this snidey message added

"Please note that this website is under construction. This is a test site and of no official use. Maybe the construction picture bellow and the useless web address does not give this away enough?"


And it's still under construction so maybe it's time to get a new web designer eh Bill? One who doesn't leave a barely started website up for weeks which a search for your company leads to? 

Just my bit of advice, let me know where to send the bill.

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