Following a ‘strategic review of services’ HR and Payroll, Finance and Accounting, ICT, Public Access and Business support will be brought back in-house by September 2006 after only 3 years of the 10 year Liberata contract. Only 120 of 650 staff will be retained by company to continue to provide Council Tax, Revenues, Housing Benefits and Consumer Direct (Government business).
The Main Overview and Scrutiny Committee decided to investigate Liberata’s IT Refresh programme in 2005. However, the Committee discovered that there was no IT asset register and that Liberata had failed to deliver on its undertaking to complete the register in February 2005. The register was a precursor to the development of an effective IT refresh programme. The Committee referred the matter to the Joint Partnership Board for urgent action.
The Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee investigated the performance of Education ICT in 2005 in response to a number of concerns expressed by Members, Head Teachers and officers. It focused on the technical support to schools. The Committee made a number of recommendations, which are indicative of the problems encountered by schools as a result of a lack of strategy and poor ICT delivery.
The Committee demanded that a Children’s Services Information System strategy be developed together with an Education ICT Strategy for Schools. It also recommended that an Education ICT group of head teachers be formed to develop partnership working with Liberata, that an Education ICT Officer is appointed, a review of Education ICT is undertaken and Liberata be required to draw up a timetable of work and an inventory of equipment. Urgent action was required to ensure every school had broadband access and every school should have an Education ICT Service Level Agreement which should “include information regarding the effects of considering other providers” (Redcar & Cleveland, 2006).