BabsGate Part 2 – Not for publication

Last January we wrote about the great mole hunt going on at Westminster City Council. We said because of the number of redundancies at the time, the flow of un-official information leaking from City Hall had increased, and we learnt that the then councils procurement officer, Alastair Gilchrist was spearheading a hunt to root out the mole infestation.


We’re pleased to say that no moles were ever caught, and Mr Mole continues in place working hard for Westminster Council and Nutsville. Although unlike the money grabbing council Mr Mole has never asked for a single penny. Gilchrist on the other hand has since departed from the council, but perhaps it’s not surprising that he did not continue with a career in pest control.


Mr Mole

Mr Mole

Yesterday Mr Mole unearthed for Nutsville an 8 page confidential report ‘not for publication’ ( don’t download it here ) penned by the councils’ very own Chief Operating Officer (with responsibility for finance and performance), Barbara ‘Babs’ Moorhouse, who is declared in the report as the sponsor of the whole project.


Now Babs has an unusual way with words which we call ‘BabsSpeak’, luckily we are able to translate BabsSpeak for you.


The report opens with a summary written in ‘BabsSpeak’:


BabsSpeak: “The purpose of the contract is to deliver an “end to end “ eSourcing Platform encompasses spend analysis, strategic sourcing, procurement (including RFQ), evaluation, contract management, compliance, supplier performance management, and programme management solutions in an integrated suite.


Translation:  She’s buying some software to help the council keep track of what they’re buying.


Most of the financial software packages the council uses are basically knackered and reached the end of their working life long ago.


Babs goes on to explain that this software is needed because of the Tri Borough merger with Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea councils, and it will be mainly Westminster’s job to handle the buying of things, procurement.


An open secret


Babs tells us in the report that the council needs to be more open:


BabsSpeak: “Westminster City Council need to create improved visibility of contracts let through procurement and the purchasing activity against those contracts in the Ariba P2P Platform that Westminster already uses via its relationship with Vertex Data Science Ltd.”


Translate: Westminster City Council wishes to confess that it’s been less than open in its incestuous relationship with Vertex Data Science Ltd.


BabsSpeak: “That this report be exempt from disclosure by virtue of the Local Government Act 1972 Schedule 12A, Part 1, paragraph 3 (as amended), in that it contains information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).”


Translation: Shhh, don’t tell anyone, if this got out it would upset both Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea Councils, along with Vertex and not to mention the three suppliers trying to flog their services to the council:


BravoSolution; who quoted an annual subscription of £133,000 and estimated professional services costs of £69,900.


Emptoris; who quoted an annual subscription of £150,000 and estimated professional services costs of £100,000


And the winning company Ariba Inc with an annual subscription of £121,000 and professional services costs of £35,000.


Bringing the cost of the ‘solution’ over two years to £311,090.


Hooray, and how patriotic the American company wins the day.


Why would Westminster City Council mark this document as confidential – not for publication when we are supposed to be entering a new age of transparency and openness?


BabsSpeak: “eSourcing requires Cabinet Member endorsement given the scale although will be procured through the Vertex Data Services contract, therefore a formal Contract Notice will not need to be published or tenders invited. No Waiver of the Procurement Code will be required. A change request will be required to be raised to amend the Vertex contract.”


Translation: We’re doing this under the radar.


It’s worth noting that Vertex will not be doing this out of the kindness of their hearts, as we estimate they will slap around 8% on the costs for helping out Westminster Council.




BabSpeak: “Westminster City Council does not have reputable spend visibility at a category or supplier level that can provide the analysis and spend granularity to drive increased savings through strategic sourcing.”


BabSpeak: “Westminster City Council does not have a complete view of all key procurement activity across the council or a fully populated and actively managed contracts register which supports compliance, governance and transparency.”


Translation: I haven’t got a clue where all the moneys gone.


Sources tell us that trying to get a hold of Babs on a Friday can be quite tricky. Perhaps unlike us who are busy grooming our mole, she maybe off grooming her horses. Ahh don’t worry though, our Mr Mole has already provided us with a hard disc full of documents that will benefit from the disinfectant of sunlight.


BabsGate Part 3 soon.


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1 Comment

Kill SwitchApril 4th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

4.5 Ariba Inc has proposed a “proof of concept” for eSourcing with an annual subscription
of £121,000 and professional services costs of £35,000.

Does “proof of concept” mean that they give the lowest quote and get the contract, to then find out, that once the “concept” is proven, it turns out to be far more expensive than the original costs, but as the council has already awarded the contract they’ll just have to pay whatever it ends up being (maybe more even, than the other companies quotes).

Or am I wrong??

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