Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Outsourcing: Is Cornwall Council up to it?

The performance issues with Cornwall Council's IT contract with BT are very disappointing indeed. However, it is not all bad news.

The Council calculated that its alternative to outsourcing its IT upgrade would have been bring in consultants and pay (£8m) to get them to do the upgrade: the Council simply did not have the capacity to do the job itself.

So where the work has not gone to plan the Council has had BT to blame and it has been able to charge BT penalties for poor performance. Imagine the scene if people in Cornwall could charge penalties to the Council for its failure to deliver services?

The creation of extra jobs from the BT contract was always a pretty wooly obligation. So I was surprised that the Council were prepared to build their £15m office in Bodmin on the back of it.

The experience of the Council in executing and managing the BT contract has led me to be cautious about a new plan the Council has to make money by taking on road maintenance for Nottinghamshire.

Last week the advisory committee recommended that Cabinet approve this proposal. It will go to Cabinet on 12th May. The deal goes to Nottingham County Council for approval on 20th May.

It is great for Cormac to be ambitious to make money elsewhere for Cornwall. However, I fear that the costs and risks for Cornwall are being woefully underestimated. And the timetable is incredibly tight.

For Nottinghamshire, however, they will be able to blame (and penalise) Cornwall Council if their potholes are too big!

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