Subsequently the Barnet Bugle submitted a Freedom of Information request to ascertain this maximum value. Following an initial refusal and a request for an internal review, the response which came back eventually stated:
"The establishment of an Implementation Partner contract enables the provision of consultants for specific assignments based on end to end process of phased delivery requirements. This means that the forecast cost of the contract cannot be fully predicted it will be in excess of £500,000 [in the first year of delivery with circa £2,000,000 identified as potential contract delivery cost over a three year period.]" The section in brackets is the important information which was originally withheld.
The call in was reviewed by Cllr Dan Thomas who had originally signed off the DPR and he said he had decided to retain the contract without amendment - so from his point of view Cllr Thomas was happy with the contract as it stood.
Now just two years on, the bill for Agilisys at at 31 May 2012 is a shade under £3 million (£2,972,667.37) £1 million more than forecast and there is still a year to run on the contract.
I don't know who is keeping tabs on this spending (other than me) but if I had signed off a contract that was running 50% over total budget with a third of the contract term still to run, I would be kicking up merry hell asking what on earth was going on.
During the Inspection of Accounts I did try and review the details on the invoices submitted by Agilisys and reconcile them to the contract but according to Barnet Council that information is commercially sensitive so both invoices and contract were excessively redacted to the point that I could not see how many days they have billed or what daily rate they have applied.
I have raised this matter with Grant Thornton, the Council's external auditor, as I wonder if this additonal £1 million should have been spent on this contract without any subsequent authorisation or if any further spending with Agilisys is ultra vires. I will have to await a response from Mr Hughes but irrespective of the outcome it illustrates that the Council's "relentless desire for efficiency" doesn't appear to extend to monitoring supplier payments.