1.The BEFORE – What the Council Lib Dem administration (under former CEO Alan Jones) said to expect in 2007:
+ to help modernise and transform the overall workings of the County Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council;
+ to invest in new world-class technologies to improve productivity;
+ joined-up public services, better value for money;
+ a better deal for staff – job security, career development prospects, training opportunities;
+ a better deal for the authorities – better for less;
+ delivery of customer-facing services.
2. The PREDICTION – Report from Professor Whitfield in 2007 BEFORE contract signing with IBM for SWOne.
Professor Dexter Whitfield’s report highlighted the future outcomes for Southwest One with uncanny accuracy:
“ISiS faces five main risks –
• Operational failure to meet the performance and investment requirements.
• Partnership failure
• Shared services failure
• Savings smaller than planned
• Inward investment lower than forecast”
3. The AFTER – The problems & issues identified by the Council Conservative administration in 2015 (with 2 years to go to the end of this controversial contract in Nov’2017):
X IBM/SWOne was unable to bring these further clients on board meant that the level of investment required to deliver the benefits originally envisaged became excessive and detrimental to all parties;
X The fixed price nature of the contract means that as SCC has shrunk in response to austerity and service changes, the contract is increasingly unaffordable;
X Significant enough savings have not been achieved due to the lack of flexibility of the SWOne contract;
X Opportunities for service transformation have been identified, which need to be implemented by a return of control over those services to SCC;
X The client/provider objectives have been misaligned for some time and this has required a high level of management by SCC;
X The return of these services to SCC will improve their resilience, the Council’s ability to modernise and improve service performance;
X The return of the services will enable the Council to improve the agility of back office services and systems to support our transformation aspirations and respond to financial challenges, including in priority areas such as Children’s and Adults’ services;
X The fixed price regime means we can only drive significant savings from the contract once it ends;
X Where functions have returned we have driven out significant savings and improved the services;
X Service delivery can be focussed on Core Council priorities rather than shared service objectives;
X The opportunity to improve service performance;
X To remove costly ongoing contract management requirements;
X Following an Officer non key decision in May 2015 SCC commenced the reprocurement of SAP to ensure a smooth transition of current SAP arrangements to a new Supplier at the end of the SWOne contract.
X Extend the current contract. This option was considered but has been ruled out due to scope, affordability and fitness for purpose of the current contract. This was acknowledged in the Leader’s Non Key Decision in May 2015
It is clear from this report that this controversial contract (with IBM for SWOne) has delivered “Worse for More” rather than “Better for Less”.
It was also billed to staff (by former CEO Alan Jones) as protecting frontline services from budget shortfalls. I have (probably conservative) calculations to 2013/14, that show that the true net position with IBM (via SWOne) was £50m+ in various payments, overheads and costs MORE PAID OUT by Somerset, than cashable savings COMING BACK IN via SWOne!
Overall, by my calculations, the true SWOne net position added £50m+ cost pressures to frontline services, in addition to the post-banking crisis austerity cuts from the Government.
In 2009/10, after a report into SWOne by former Audit Chair John Wilkins, the Somerset Branch of UNISON had a conversation with the then Council Leader Ken Maddock (after former CEO Alan Jones had left). Cllr.Maddock told us that it would cost £12m to exit this controversial contract at that point. We thought that a price worth paying, but Cllr.Maddock said that was a politically difficult sum to justify to Somerset taxpayers.
I hope, for the sake of Somerset and the key public services remaining (especially Social Care), that the price tag on Option 3 “Early Exit from the Contract” is more palatable and politically acceptable now.
NIGEL BEHAN, UNITE Branch Sec at Somerset County