Maximum payments to consultants or estimated maximum

The request was partially successful.

Barnet Bugle Limited

Dear Barnet Borough Council,

Councillor Jack Cohen at tonights Bus Man OSC referred to a figure in
http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/dem...

He spoke in public session as to how there was a figure in the exempt report that was a maximum or possible maximum figure for the consultancy spend or contract that wasn't in the public report.

My request is for the exempt report with the minimum redactions. Especially I request the sum of money referred to by Councillor Jack Cohen (described above).

Yours faithfully,

Barnet Bugle Limited

Wilson Pointer, Catherine, Barnet Borough Council

Dear Barnet Bugle,

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your request under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the 'FOIA'), received by the London Borough of
Barnet on 14 September 2010.

I understand that you are requesting a copy of the exempt 'Implementation
Partner Contract' report with the minimum redactions. I further understand
that you are requesting a figure in the exempt 'Implementation Partner
Contract' report that was 'a maximum or possible maximum figure for the
consultancy spend or contract'. I understand that the figure you are
requesting was referred to by Cllr Jack Cohen in the meeting of the
Business Management Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee on 13 September
2010.

Under the FOIA you are entitled to a prompt response which in any event
should be sent within 20 working days from the date we received your
request.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss your request.

Kind Regards,

Catherine Wilson Pointer

Governance Officer

Corporate Governance Directorate

London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South,
London N11 1NP

Barnet Online: www.barnet.gov.uk

P please consider the environment - do you really need to print this
email?

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Wilson Pointer, Catherine, Barnet Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Barnet Bugle,

I am writing in relation to your request to the London Borough of Barnet
(the Council) for access under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the
FOIA) to the following:

...a copy of the exempt 'Implementation Partner Contract' report with the
minimum redactions.

My decision on disclosure of the information requested is below.

Disclosure Notice

I have decided to disclose a copy of the exempt `Implementation Partner
Contract' report with some information withheld under section 43(2) of the
FOIA (Commercial interests).

Refusal Notice

I am applying section 43(2) of the FOIA (Commercial interests) to withhold
information contained in the exempt `Implementation Partner Contract'
report. The information that I have withheld is a potential contract
delivery cost for the `Implementation Partner Contract' over a three year
period if the contract is awarded to Agilisys/iMPOWER and the identity of
other tender bidders.

At this stage no contract has been awarded as the Business Management
Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee referred the decision of the Cabinet
Member for Resources and Performance back for reconsideration.

As the decision has been referred back for reconsideration disclosure of
this information would adversely affect the legitimate economic interests
of third parties in the event that the Cabinet Member for Resources and
Performance decides to re-tender for the `Implementation Partner
Contract'. Disclosure of the information would provide competitors in that
process to have access to otherwise confidential commercial information.

Where the section 43(2) exemption covers the information requested, the
information must still be disclosed unless the public interest in
maintaining the exemption is greater than the public interest in
disclosing it. This additional stage is called the "public interest test".
The arguments we considered when applying this test to your request are:

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Arguments for disclosure | Arguments for maintenance of the |
| | exemption |
|---------------------------------+--------------------------------------|
|Promoting the general public |Ensuring that the Council attains best|
|interest in disclosure of |value for services if the Cabinet |
|information. |Member for Resources and Performance |
| |decides to re-tender for the relevant |
| |contract. |
|---------------------------------+--------------------------------------|
|Promoting the general public |Maintaining the confidentiality of |
|interest in accountability and |information provided by |
|transparency in public spending. |Agilisys/iMPOWER to ensure they are |
| |not disadvantaged in the event of a |
| |re-tender. |
|---------------------------------+--------------------------------------|
| |Maintaining the anonymity of |
| |previously unsuccessful tender bidders|
| |to ensure a level playing field in the|
| |event of a re-tender for the |
| |`Implementation Partner Contract' |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

I have decided that, in this instance, the public interest in maintaining
the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

Your Rights

We believe we have correctly applied the provisions of the FOIA in this
response. However, if you are unhappy with the way your request for
information has been handled, you can request a review by writing to the
FOI Officer at: The London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park,
Oakleigh Road South, London, N11 1NP (email [1][Barnet Borough Council request email]).

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint,
you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The
Information Commissioner's Officer, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF (telephone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45; website:
[2]www.ico.gov.uk).

There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Wilson Pointer

Governance Officer

Corporate Governance Directorate

London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South,
London N11 1NP

Barnet Online: www.barnet.gov.uk

P please consider the environment - do you really need to print this
email?

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Barnet Bugle Limited

Dear Barnet Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Barnet Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Maximum payments to consultants or estimated maximum'.

We disagree with your assessment of the public interest and contend you are putting too high a weighting on commercial confidentiality. This has been demonstrated as in putting in our FoI request you have submitted 98% of a paper that the Council had claimed the public should be prevented from seeing.

It is our submission that the public has a right to know the maximum payment possible for this large expenditure of their funds and who the other bidders were.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ma...

Yours faithfully,

Barnet Bugle Limited

Freedom of Information Act, Barnet Borough Council

Dear Barnet Bugle,

I am sorry to hear that you are not satisfied with our response to your
request for information. We shall now conduct an internal review of the
handling of your request.

In our initial response we withheld the following information based on the
exemption in section 43 FOIA 2000:

- the contract delivery cost for the `Implementation Partner Contract'
over a three year period if the contract is awarded to Agilisys/iMPOWER
and

- the identity of other tender bidders.

In this review we shall re-examine in each of the above cases (i) whether
the s43 exemption is engaged and (ii) if it is, whether the public
interest favours withholding or disclosing the information.

I note the points you make in your most recent correspondence. If you
have any further factors you would like us to take into account then
please let us know.

We aim to complete internal reviews within 20 working days from when we
receive a complaint.

Yours faithfully,

Governance Team

London Borough of Barnet

Tel (direct dial): 0208 359 7080

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Barnet Bugle Limited

Dear Wilson Pointer, Catherine,

As Councillor Thomas has publicly stated that the decision has now been taken, under delegated powers, can you please review your decision and publish the information requested.

Yours sincerely,

Barnet Bugle Limited

Toru, Niall, Barnet Borough Council

Dear Barnet Bugle,

I write with our response to your complaint of 11 October 2010 concerning
our handling of your request for information.  This internal review has
been processed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

Your request was for "a copy of the exempt `Implementation Partner
Contract' report"'.  In our response we supplied this report but with the
following redactions:

(1) the part of paragraph 5.2 that discusses the forecast contract cost,
and

(2) the part of paragraph 8.3 that identifies the five other tenderers for
the contract.

We decided the information in these extracts was exempt under section
43(2) of the FOIA.  This exemption applies when disclosure would, or
would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person.  As
this exemption is also subject to the "public interest test" in section 2
FOIA we went on to consider the public interest factors for and against
disclosure, and concluded that in both cases the exemption should be
maintained.

Your complaint was that in applying the public interest test we placed
"too high a weighting on commercial confidentiality" given the amount of
public expenditure under the contract.  You also contacted us on 2
November 2010 stating that the information should be released as the
circumstances had changed, in that the contract had been awarded.  To
follow is our response following internal review of our initial decision.

PARAGRAPH 5.2 - FORECAST CONTRACT COST

As the contract has now been awarded the arguments for withholding the
information on the forecast cost are no longer applicable.  As such
please find to follow paragraph 5.2 in its entirety (with the previously
redacted information in brackets):

"5.2 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.]"

PARAGRAPH 8.3 - IDENTITIES OF TENDERERS

This paragraph contains a table summarising the tender evaluation
information on the six bids.  Although the public version of the report
lists scores for each of the six bids against various "evaluation
criteria", only Agilisys/iMPOWER are identified, with the names of the
other five (unsuccessful) bidders redacted.  We also redacted these
details in our response to your request under FOIA for the report.

I am satisfied that this information is protected by the "commercial
interests" exemption in section 43(2) FOIA.  As the Agilisys bid is the
first of six columns it would be reasonable to assume the table lists the
bidders in alphabetical order, so to disclose tenderers' identities would
also mean publishing our evaluation of their bids. This information is
sensitive commercial information.  It reflects the council's judgment on
the relative merits of each of the bidders, both in terms of the quoted
costs, their capacity and capability to deliver under the contract, and
our judgment of the quality of the goods and services offered. 

Although the scores in the evaluation matrix are published, bidders do not
expect us to publicly link them with the scores, unless they win the
bid.  There may be many reasons behind a bidders' approach to each
element of a tender, but to release just our evaluations would be likely
to unfairly damage their reputation amongst future business partners, with
the result that we would attract fewer bidders to future tenders. 
Further, the evaluation matrix could be regarded as a means of
benchmarking tender market position of bidders, which could also distort
competition for council contracts.

In my view the above arguments, which are also public interest factors for
maintaining the "commercial interest" exemption, outweigh the opposing
public interests factors supporting disclosure (identified in our initial
response).  It's relevant that the council has published the remainder of
the report, and has published the individual evaluation scores for each
bidder, albeit with names redacted.  As such the original decision to
withhold this information is upheld.

YOUR RIGHTS

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint,
you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The
Information Commissioner's Officer, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF (telephone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45; website:
[1]www.ico.gov.uk).  There is no charge for making an appeal.

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References

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