Many will remember that the subject of consultants has been rumbling on here, ever since Cllr Mike Fletcher asked some difficult questions back in January 2010 and later. If this means nothing to you, and you’d like to find out more, here is as good a place as any to start.
If you’d rather have a quick summary, here it is. Peterborough City Council have spent many millions per year on consultants, in order to achieve claimed savings of many more millions. Others dispute the benefits. What follows is one person’s interpretation of the situation.
This is the consultants’ description of their methodology:
That’s from the V4 pitch on the IESE website, “accelerating public sector transformation.”, signed by Paul Tonks, Heather Darwin and Chris Wright, all giving Peterborough City Council email addresses.
As I understand it, the method is to come into the department without telling anyone what you’re doing, (not sure why). Establish a base. Get some data. Work out some plans. Put it on the new computer system you brought with you. Calculate predicted future savings. Show management the savings. Send in the bill. Not necessarily in that order.
They have a plan to sell that software to Government, on the basis that it has been a great success in Peterborough, and could be rolled out nationwide.
That’s from here: Innovation Launch Pad. Cabinet Office
The argument arose when it became apparent to some councillors that some consultants were taking a salary for a top interim deputy chief executive job, for example, and also sending in their invoice for the consultancy work, at the same time, since they also owned the company doing the consulting. This went on for several years.
When questions were asked, V4 Services were sheltered behind the main contractor Amtec, who refused to divulge details of how much their subcontractors V4 Services were taking themselves out of the approximate £12 million annual bill for consultants, on top of the executive wage packet for the director(s).
And Council, when they finally delivered their report, which is due to be discussed in Marco Cereste’s Cabinet at 10am on June 13th 2011, redacted much of the information. They may or may not have been threatened with legal action if they revealed details.
The whole report can be found here. There is no easy summary unfortunately.
So the argument boils down to the quality and quantity of the forecast savings, as shown in the new Verto software, compared with the approximate £12 million annual bill for the consultants who deliver the programme. For example, some councillors may question if the savings were made by simple outsourcing, or a change in accounting procedures, or indeed sacking staff, and if so then why pay millions? Those are the facts to be established. There are other ways to sum up the situation, but that will do for now.
Full Council may or may not be given a chance to debate the report at 7 pm on 13th July 2011, a full eighteen months after the questions were originally posed, with a local election inbetween.
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