Facing the TV cameras, officials at Somerset County Council spoke with confidence about the new joint venture company they had set up with the “world-class” IT supplier IBM.
“The contract has to succeed; we will make it succeed, ” a senior official said at the time. Greater choice for residents, more control, sustained improvement of services, improved efficiency, tens of millions in savings and enhanced job prospects for staff.
These were some of the promises in 2007.
Since then, Somerset County Council has been through a costly legal dispute with IBM; projected savings have become losses, and Somerset is days away from taking back the service early.
Now the council faces new IT-related risks to its reputation and finances, warns a team of auditors.
In several audit reports on the exit arrangements, auditors warn of a series of uncertainties about:
- what exactly IT assets the council will own as of 1 December 2016, when the joint venture hands back IT and staff.
- how much software may not be licensed, therefore being used illicitly.
- how much software is being paid for without being needed or used, wasting council tax money.
- whether thousands of pieces of hardware have been disposed of securely over the years of the contract, or whether confidential data could later turn up in the public domain.
- the accuracy of some supplied information. “… the same networking hardware items have the same value associated with them even though one is twelve years old and the other only four” said auditors.