By Tony Collins
Capita has a contractual duty to promote the success of the “One Barnet” outsourcing deal with Barnet Council – apparently without taking into account facts that may count against success.
Within the 2,400 pages that make up contracts between Capita and Barnet Council, Unison has discovered clauses that appear to put the onus on the service provider to talk up the success of Barnet’s outsourcing deal.
These are excerpts from the contracts:
“The Service Provider shall use its relationships to create advocates of the success of the One Barnet programme by informing the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Local Government Association of key milestones and achievements within the programme thereby supporting increased political awareness of the Authority and the Service Provider shall utilise its corporate and personal networks to support the communication of the success of the Partnership via appropriate case studies.”
The contract points out that the service provider has “frequent meetings across central government at official level and occasional meetings at ministerial level”. It also sits on the Public Services Strategy Board, the Whitehall & Industry Group, Reform, Policy Exchange and Localis.
“The Service Provider shall use its relationships to create opportunities for the successes of the Partnership to be promoted enhancing the profile of the Authority at strategic level across the public sector,” says one of the contractual clauses.
Thank you to Dave Orr, a campaigner for openness over local government outsourcing deals, for drawing my attention to the Barnet Council clauses.
It now seems to be official – that outsourcing deals in local government have to be perceived as successful. Perhaps these sorts of clauses in local government outsourcing contracts help to explain why the public don’t learn of failing “partnerships” and joint ventures until what has gone wrong can be hidden no longer.
This is not open government. This is a contractual expectation that the supplier’s representatives should smile, and smile broadly, whenever the subject of an outsourcing deal with Barnet is discussed, or there is an opportunity to discuss it.
Which rather undermines the credibility of the Public Services Strategy Board, the Whitehall & Industry Group, Reform, Policy Exchange and Localis if supplier’s representatives are there to pass on PR messages about their outsourcing deals, whatever the truth.
“Smile and others will smile back. Smile to show how transparent, how candid you are. Smile if you have nothing to say. Most of all, do not hide the fact you have nothing to say nor your total indifference to others. Let this emptiness, this profound indifference, shine out spontaneously in your smile.” Jean Baudrillard.