OpinioN8

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Contract for the Supply of Desktop and Laptop Hardware and Associat...

(Report of the Director of Corporate Resources): To seek approval to the contract for the supply of desktop and laptop hardware and services which will facilitate the delivery of the IT Strategy and to seek agreement to place a contract with a maximum value.

 

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NOT FOR PUBLICATION

Tags: openness, transparency

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Is that a mistake or is it usual for Council to publish (or not) such things?

Call-in to challenge Council IT spending decision

(by Councillor Karen Alexander. Re-posted from HoL)

 

Just wanted to draw residents attention to another council decision that is to be challenged in a special meeting next week.

Proc12. Contract for the supply of desktop and laptop hardware and associated professional services

The controversial decision by Haringey’s Labour Council to spend £3.3million on new computers will be challenged at a special meeting of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee next Wednesday, 24th August 2011. In July, Labour members agreed to spend millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money despite only having one successful bidder to replace all of the Council’s computers.

The decision is considered to be inside the policy and budget framework, however,

• The decision to award a £3.3million contract based on only one valid bid after two procurement rounds cannot be considered as achieving value for money for local taxpayers.

• The Council is currently reorganising its workforce and therefore is not able to provide certainty to IT providers on its hardware needs.

• No details have been provided as to the risk of this project being delayed and what the effect on services for local people would be.

• Lack of public scrutiny and information of a decision that commits significant public resources in a time of scarce funding.

The variation of action proposed is:-

• That procurement is delayed for 6 months to 1 year to allow a more accurate demand (i.e. final Council officer headcount) to be confirmed, to allow the Council to go to market with less uncertainty in the expectation of getting a better price through tendering.

• For the Council to review of the ‘approved suppliers’ list to understand why, on two occasions, there was only one valid bidder for this contract.

The Council’s spending priorities are being questioned at a time when funding is scarce. The Council cannot be sure that the best price was achieved and it should delay its decision until the Council reviews why only one supplier bid for the contract and if different solutions could secure better value for money.

Considering that Haringey Council has a history of massively overspending on IT projects, local residents should not bear the brunt of similar bad decisions.

The agenda can be found on the Haringey Council website.

OpinioN8's admin posted this thread in the first purely because a decision was to be taken where all the information seemed to be unavailable to the public. This seems at odds with the current fashion for 'transparency' (or 'visibility' as I prefer to think of it).

The agenda to which Cllr Alexander refers can be found here

This Cabinet Procurement Document contains a lot of information. For example that 70% of the existing stock is "thin client" which if implemented property should surely solve the bulk of the listed software problems.

The minority party seems to be working very hard at present to query the majority decision making. 

I for one would like to know where the Council stands on Open Source Software.

Because there are likely to be deeply entrenched vested interests in the current old legacy operating systems, I doubt whether there has been any appraisal of this, the future of computing for local authoriites, let along an appraisal that is objective.

If this huge spend marks the beginning of the switch to Open Source, I would be impressed. At the moment, the huge deal seems shrouded in secrecy, like much of the council's business.

More information on local authorities and Open Source

I have not installed Microsoft (MS) Office on my new PC though I used it throughout my career in IT. I have instead got Open Office (OO) which has just as many bits in it and is free. I am getting on moderately well with it. Loads of stuff I'd learned to do with Office I have to relearn in OO. I don't think I will ever learn to write macros in OO - my brain is procedural and OO is Object Oriented (OO!) and the two don't mix.

This represents an inconvenience for me - for an organisation switching from one regime to another it would represent a huge cost in translating all the macros they have developed into another language. Which might be a benefit - I once worked with an Accounts department who boasted of their 2000+ macros which they used at least monthly. They did not realise they had confused problems and solutions - so not rewriting all the macros might be a good thing.

Equally, given the facilities in such software as Google Docs, this purchase could be a very good opportunity to take some radical decisions. But then, no one ever got the sack for buying IBM until client/server was invented. Maybe now no-one gets the sack by buying MS, unless perhaps there is a fad for buying cloud computing.

And then radical decisions will only get taken by radical thinkers and Haringey only ever employs directors and chief executives who have already held the same job in another local authority. Hardly radical.

LBH might try to draw some lessons from the significant announcement a little earlier, that the venerable Hewlett Packard, the world's biggest manufacturer of PCs, is to exit this business as well as their ill-fated attempt at a tablet computer. As with IBM several years ago, they will concentrate on services, which is far more lucrative.

Haringey recognises that 85% of the total cost of ownership (of a PC) are the maintenance, training and upgrades and yet don't seem to question their choice of OS that leads to such a high-maintenance outcome. Of course, high-maintenance is the attribute that some tech-staff prize.

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