Bedfordshire County Council agreed a £267m Strategic Service-Delivery Partnership with HBS Business Services Group in June 2001 and transferred 550 staff to HBS. Bedfordshire UNISON commissioned the Centre to undertake an evaluation of the Strategic Partnership. The study revealed that the partnership was in crisis and had failed to deliver. The contract was terminated in August 2005.
The report revealed that HBS had failed to improve the quality of services (top 25% Best Value performance was promised, yet performance of some indicators has declined); the software system for schools failed to be implemented and the quality of support services to schools are in decline; a promised National Centre of Excellence in Education has been continuously delayed and may never be established; a Bedfordshire Regional Business Centre and new jobs failed to materialise. The Centre examined County Council and partnership documents and interviewed several County Council and HBS staff.