BT and Cornwall Council – Another Outsourcing Deal Runs Into Trouble

Sad to say, another local government outsourcing deal looks to have run into trouble. Dave Orr (who campaigned for transparency on the pretty disastrous IBM Southwest One deal with Somerset) and experienced IT commentator Tony Collins from Campaign4Change, who has exposed a few “issues” over the years, have drawn our attention to the faltering deal between Cornwall County Council and BT.

BT signed a 10-year, £260 million deal to run various business areas such as IT, telecare, human resources, and document management other services with Cornwall and local healthcare bodies in October 2013. The venture was controversial, with then-council leader Alex Robertson ousted in a vote of no confidence after lengthy internal disputes over the contract.

As Collins now reports;

Two years into the 10-year contract, BT has not met commitments and guarantees it gave when setting up BT Cornwall to take over the running of ICT, human resources, document management and other services for Cornwall Council,  Peninsula Community Health and Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. BT has made improvements in the past two months. If these are not sustained the council says that it will consider its options including early termination.

A report put to the council recently showed that most of the targets are not being hit, from service levels to “trading gain share” benefits, to the promises of creating many new jobs in Cornwall. That will be a particular blow, as it was one of the main selling points for the deal. Back to Collins:

BT Cornwall made a contractual commitment to deliver a minimum of 197 additional jobs to Cornwall over the life of the contract with 111 of these being delivered in the first two years. “Of these, 35 have been delivered so far.” There was also a commitment to try and deliver a further 240 jobs in the first two years and none of these has been delivered.

The Service Desk has failed to cope with or process the number of incidents being reported. Users have abandoned calls after “lengthy and fruitless waits for assistance”. The report adds: “The latest KPIs demonstrate that there is still some way to go in terms of Service Desk performance.”

Of course, the executives and councillors who signed this off, in a rush as seems to be usual for deals like this, have largely disappeared from the scene. BT seems to be trying to do the right things now – the firm is replacing the senior management team responsible for the work, and has said “we are working closely with our partners in this project to ensure we deliver on all aspects of the contract.”

But it is so far another unhappy story to add to a long list of local government outsourcing failures. Who is next? How’s it going in Barnet then? Do read Collins’ full article here, and the comments from Dave Orr beneath – as he points out, he warned Cornwall of the risks!

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