Capita apologise for IT failings

Capita partnership director, Mark Dally, apologised to Tuesday night's Audit Committee for failings highlighted in a Barnet Council Internal Audit report on IT disaster recovery, admitting "It was not our finest hour".

The Audit report found that there were no plans in place for recovering vital IT services in the event of a disaster, that Capita's IT disaster recovery reporting is primarily focused on demonstrating they are meeting key performance indicators in the contract with no detail on IT disaster recovery (ITDR) capability, either planned or interim, and that requirements set out in the contract were not actually being delivered.

Mr Dally told the committee that the highlighted failings were unacceptable and the service was not performing as expected.

The report follows a major IT failure in the Library Service that has resulted in a massive loss of data, meant books could not be renewed and the Library catalogue could not be accessed. Library IT systems have still not been fully recovered six weeks after the original server crash, and it is still not known what books are out on loan.

Labour councillors called for the Audit report to be referred to Performance and Contract Management Committee (PCM) to consider whether a breach of contract had occurred, if the contract still represented good value for money and what options there were for withdrawing from the contract. They also proposed that the thin client model of contract monitoring where external contractors like Capita are allowed to self-monitor should be reviewed.

The Conservative councillors on the Audit Committee agreed to refer the report to PCM  but refused to support the issues Labour proposed should be considered.

Labour's Audit spokesperson, Cllr Kathy Levine said: "The governance arrangements for this contract are unacceptable, all the Board seems to do is report on whether Capita have met a handful of performance measures so they can be paid.

"We've opposed the thin client model from the start, but the Tories wouldn't listen and even now that we have been proved right they still refuse to address it. It's an accident waiting to happen."

Labour's Performance and Contract Management spokesperson, Cllr Geof Cooke added: "It seems clear to me that Capita have committed a breach of the contract, and there should be penalties applied for doing so. If they are truly as sorry as they claim they should own up to the breach and pay a penalty."

Ends.

For more information contact:

Cllr Kathy Levine: cllr.k.levine@barnet.gov.uk

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