Cost Overruns, delays and terminations in 105 outsourced public sector ICT contracts

The Research Report identifies the scope of major cost overruns, delays and terminations in 105 outsourced public sector ICT projects in central government, NHS, local authorities, public bodies and agencies in the last decade. There has been wide reporting of individual and department or authority-wide project failures in the national and ICT press but little analysis of the overall scope and evidence. The value of contacts is nearly £30billion with an average cost overrun of 30.5%.

The report findings were reviewed by Michael Krigsman, (USA), Delays and Cost Overruns: A Constructive Analysis in eGov Monitor, 17 December 2007, Computer Weekly (21 December 2007), The Register (27 December 2007), (31 December 2007) and (24 December 2007).

Outsourcing of Meals at Home stopped in Newcastle

ESSU has worked with Newcastle City UNISON with a report and presentation to Members and senior officers detailing the case against the outsourcing of meals at home, resource and day centres. Bids to supply frozen meals from Fresh Community Meals (ISS) and Appetito were rejected. The in-house service, supplied by Neighbourhood Services, must produce an acceptable Service Improvement Plan or the service will be retendered. The report is confidential but see file for press release and Newcastle press coverage.

Future of ALMOs

ESSU has completed a study for Newcastle Tenants Federation which examines the options for the future of the Arms Length Management Organisation of the housing service. The report is confidential.

Associate Professor

Dexter Whitfield, Director of the European Services Strategy Unit, has been appointed Adjunct Associate Professor at the Australian Institute for Social Research, University of Adelaide, Australia. Further cooperation between ESSU and ASIR on regional economies, PPP projects and shared services is planned over the next few years.

Southwest One SSP and Shared Services Project

Somerset County Council and Taunton Deane District Council UNISON branches have commissioned ESSU to prepare a report to draw out the lessons of the £400m contract awarded to IBM and Mouchel Parkman with an unprecedented level of secrecy and ‘commercial confidentiality’. Over 800 staff have been seconded to a Joint Venture Company with a ten-year assured employment. The study will also set out a new agenda for how UNISON will address the transformation and shared services agenda (36 local authorities and public bodies signed a framework agreement).

Somerset ISiS or Crisis? An Assessment of the proposed Strategic Service-delivery Partnership with IBM

The report raises major questions about the way the ISiS project has been managed; the absence of any form of public impact assessment of the project; and the adequacy of the proposed retained client structure and governance arrangements. It was commissioned by Somerset County and Taunton Deane DC UNISON branches. The report is critical of the unprecedented degree of secrecy in a public sector project; the continual overuse of commercial confidentiality by the ISiS project team; the lack of public consultation and public debate; and
the lack of rigorous scrutiny of the project, to ensure the protection of public services and allay public concerns.

Financing Infrastructure in the 21st Century: The Long Term Impact of Public Private Partnerships in Britain and Australia by Dexter Whitfield

A detailed study of the longer-term impact of changes in the design, structure and financing of PPP/PFI projects, external economic and political drivers such as growth of the secondary market and government modernisation policies, and the effect of economic, social and employment change. The report also examines PPP/PFI performance, democratic accountability and transparency, the impact on jobs and concludes with an assessment of alternative public sector investment strategies.
80 pages, Dunstan Paper 2/2007, ISSN 1833-3613 Published by the Don Dunstan Foundation, University of Adelaide, Australia.

Appraisal of Unitary Options in Bedfordshire

The report assesses the two unitary options for Bedfordshire – a unitary county and two unitary councils consisting of Bedford and Central Bedfordshire (combining Mid and South Bedfordshire District Councils). It is critical of all of the proposals and finds serious flaws in the Government’s option appraisal process, particularly the absence of an enhanced two-tier developmental option and the narrow assessment criteria. Commissioned by 4 UNISON branches in Bedfordshire and submitted to DCLG.


Shared Services in Britain

The European Services Strategy Unit has published a new study ‘Shared Services in Britain’ commissioned by the Australian Institute for Social Research and the Public Service Association. This comprehensive report examines various models and examples of public sector shared services, costs and benefits, employment impacts, governance and transparency and the long-term implications of shared services in the government’s transformation agenda for public services.

Shared Services in Australia: A companion study of shared services in Australia by the Australian Institute for Social Research for the Public Service Association of South Australia. It draws out the lessons learnt by state government shared services programmes.

ESSU Research Report No 2: Options Appraisal Criteria Matrix by Dexter Whitfield

This ESSU Research Report focuses on appraisal criteria, which are a fundamental part of the options appraisal process. It outlines out the key stages in the appraisal process. As options appraisal becomes a more common tool in public management there is evidence that ‘appraisal bias’ is leading to pre-selected options and construction of particular outcomes by the selective use of evidence and narrow evaluation criteria. Yet a rigorous and investigative approach can be very productive, directing attention to longer-term needs rather than short- term interests. The Options Appraisal Criteria Matrix has twelve sections, which cover the full range of issues that should be taken into account in appraising options.