Audit report slams council's IT disaster recovery with 'limited assurance' rating

An audit report on Barnet council's IT Disaster Recovery (ITDR) due to be discussed at tonight’s Audit Committee (Tuesday 19 April) has identified failings in the service provided by Capita Customer & Support Group (CSG), and given it a 'limited assurance' rating.

The report highlights that:

·         There is no plan for recovering vital IT services in the event of a disaster:

·         The promised interim IT disaster recovery system was not implemented and the new permanent system is yet to be installed.

·         The contract for interim ITDR capability systems lapsed in early 2015 and was not renewed by Capita. 

·         Back-ups taken in preparation for the new full ITDR capability cannot be used as they haven't been tested.

·         There are no documented ITDR plans in place for interim ITDR capability.

·         There is currently no alternative interim ITDR capability. 

·         Contract monitoring is weak:

·         Capita's IT disaster recovery reporting is primarily focused on demonstrating they are meeting key performance indicators in the contract- there is no detail on ITDR capability, either planned or interim.

·         Capita have not identified staff with responsibility for ITDR so they can attend the council's quarterly meetings to discuss Business Continuity Management, and therefore ITDR is not routinely discussed at these meetings.

·         Capita's ITDR reporting does not reflect the true risk exposure of the Council.

·         ITDR requirements set out in the Capita contract were not actually being delivered:

·         IT applications rated as Silver and Bronze are supposed to be recovered within 48 hours with a maximum hour's data loss - but Capita were not delivering ITDR for Bronze applications, and Silver rated applications were only being restored within 96 hours and up to a day's data loss.

·         There were similar inconsistencies at Platinum and Gold level.

·         There is a risk that an IT application may not function when other applications that it is dependent on are also not recovered (- this recently occurred in the Library IT failure).

Another Audit report for Tuesday's committee also gives Capita's IT Change Management a 'limited assurance' rating, stating that: "The IT Change Management process is not yet effectively embedded into the organisation (due to it being relatively new) and it is not yet at the required level of maturity expected from an experienced IT Service Provider. This limits CSG’s ability to effectively govern, manage, monitor and improve IT change and increases the likelihood of negative impact to services at Barnet Council."

Labour's Audit spokesperson, Cllr Kathy Levine said: "Capita seem to be more interested in box-ticking so they get paid rather than ensuring services are actually working.

"It looks like there has been no serious monitoring of disaster recovery plans, no serious monitoring of business continuity, and no serious effort to provide anything more than the most basic service. 

"It's quite clear that the thin client model of allowing external contractors like Capita to self-monitor is not working, just as we said it wouldn't at the time of letting the contract - we were ignored and the Tories forced this dreadful contract through.

"The Tories are paying the price for their lack of interest in scrutinising this contract. It's an ideologically driven experiment with Barnet taxpayers' money and services that is unravelling.

"We've already had a major failure of IT in the Library Service where it has taken weeks for systems to be recovered, and everything is still not fully back up and running.

"Now we learn that IT disaster recovery plans are not in place - which explains why it is taking so long to completely restore the Library IT systems - it should have taken 48 hours at most to sort the problem out, not six weeks.

"This has serious ramifications for other even more critical frontline services."



1. A copy of the Audit report can be found here (agenda Item 7 - Internal Audit Exceptions Recommendations Report:

2. A copy of the Audit report on IT Change Management can be found here:

3. A copy of the Audit Committee agenda and papers can be found here:

For more information contact:

Cllr Kathy Levine:

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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