Previous Voluntary Severance Packages

M. MacLean made this Freedom of Information request to University of Glasgow

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was successful.

Dear University of Glasgow,

Please provide details of all voluntary severance packages the University has offered since 1999 until the present.

1. In each case, please provide details of the dates inclusive of start and closing dates for each package;
2. The terms of the packages including amount for each year’s service or other such terms, and include any other financial terms, including lump sum payments, pension contributions and any other benefits of the package;
3. In the case of each scheme, the number of people who benefited in each case, and within that, the number of people who received pension benefits allowing immediate retiral;
4. The average cost per person of each settlement;
4. Please also provide the total cost to the University of each scheme, and the amount of savings gained by the University
5. In each case the number of beneficiaries re-employed by the University, whether in the status of employee or consultant in whatever capacity.

Yours faithfully,

M. MacLean

FOI Office, University of Glasgow

1 Attachment

Dear M MacLean,

Further to your Freedom of Information request dated 5 May 2010 timed
20:39 hours. Please find letter of acknowledgement attached.

You will find that the University's acknowledgement of your information
request is in PDF (Portable Document Format) file(s) attached to this
email.

The PDF file format is used for electronic distribution because it
preserves the look and feel of the original document complete with
fonts, colours, images, and layout. To open a PDF file you can download
a free program called Acrobat Reader and install it onto your computer
by clicking on to the following URL:

http://www.adobe.co.uk/products/acrobat/...

Yours sincerely,

Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office

Direct Line: +44 (0)141 330 2523
Fax: 0141 330 4920

Gilbert Scott Building
University of Glasgow
University Avenue
Glasgow G12 8QQ

The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401

FOI Office, University of Glasgow

Dear Mr MacLean ,

We apologise for the delay in responding to your Freedom of Information
request dated 5 May 2010 timed 20:39 hours.

We are currently processing your request and will contact you as soon as
this has been concluded.

We appreciate your patience while this is ongoing.

Yours sincerely,

Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office

Direct Line: +44 (0)141 330 2523
Fax: 0141 330 4920

Gilbert Scott Building
University of Glasgow
University Avenue
Glasgow G12 8QQ

The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401

Diane Scott left an annotation ()

There's an interesting summary of very candid audit report on a previous scheme here

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/83...

There's some very direct criticism by the University's own auditor of the way that the previous scheme was run. It shows that the formal policy was to give a maximum amount of a years salary but the director of HR had "considerable flexibility" and a lot of people got more than that. It also looks like they broke the funding council's rules and very worryingly the Finance people and the HR people couldn't agree how much it cost.

It then goes on to say that this was a big improvement on a previous scheme!!!

You wonder how bad the previous scheme must have been.

Worth a look if you are interested, here's a quick summary.

"The primary objective of the Severance scheme was to reduce the University’s cost base. The Court gave considerable flexibility to the Director of Human Resources. In effect there was a
single criterion – that the payback period should not exceed 12 months – and even then this was
qualified by the use of the word “normally”.

The Court, as the University’s governing body, has the
right to delegate as it sees fit. However, in our opinion, allocation of this degree of responsibility to
any employee runs counter to paragraph 11 of the SHEFC circular 48/98a (on severance). This states
that settlements proposed that are in excess of the norm should be specifically endorsed by the
Remuneration Committee and formally approved by the Governing Body. Our review showed that 20
settlements failed to satisfy the criterion that the payback period should not exceed 12 months. This
represents 14 per cent of total settlements.

The overall management controls in relation to the scheme represent a considerable improvement upon
the previous scheme (reported upon by Internal Audit in June 2000). However there were a number of
areas where our findings indicate a control environment which falls short of the standards required in this highly sensitive area.

The main findings can be summarised as follows:
• the policy on severance was not sufficiently clear
• the wide authority delegated by the Court together with the lack of policy guidelines made it
difficult to demonstrate that settlements across the University were consistent and equitable
• authorisation procedures were not always appropriate • a number of staff granted severance were due to retire relatively soon while others had worked
for the University for relatively short periods
• the requirement by SHEFC for institutions to refrain from entering into confidentiality
agreements was breached in one instance
• the disclosure of information to Court falls short of that which is required by the SHEFC
guidance and was not consistent with management assurances following the previous audit
and
• there has been no reconciliation of the records maintained by Human Resources and those
maintained by the Finance Office (3.7).

The Director of Human Resources has agreed the factual accuracy of the report. He made the
following points in responding to Internal Audit:
• the entire scheme was administered by the Director of Human Resources and his secretary in
addition to their normal duties;
• the potential difficulties and pressures occasioned by this should not be under-estimated given
the complexity and difficulty of many of the negotiations, the requirement for speed of
response and the practical aspects of managing a large scheme over a long timescale; and
• many of the stakeholders (Deans and other senior managers) had legitimate expectations that
the Director of Human Resources would deliver agreed outcomes and in such circumstances
there is a clear pressure to exercise pragmatism in ensuring the achievement of desired outcomes."

FOI Office, University of Glasgow

3 Attachments

Dear Mr MacLean,

Please find attached the University's response to your Freedom of
Information (Scotland) Act 2002 request dated 5 May 2010 timed 20:39
hours.

You will find that the University's response to your information request
is in PDF (Portable Document Format) file(s) attached to this email.

The PDF file format is used for electronic distribution because it
preserves the look and feel of the original document complete with
fonts, colours, images, and layout. To open a PDF file you can download
a free program called Acrobat Reader and install it onto your computer
by clicking on to the following URL:

http://www.adobe.co.uk/products/acrobat/...

Yours sincerely,

Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office

Direct Line: +44 (0)141 330 2523
Fax: 0141 330 4920

Gilbert Scott Building
University of Glasgow
University Avenue
Glasgow G12 8QQ

The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401

M. MacLean left an annotation ()

I thank Dianne Scott for the following information:

"There's an interesting summary of very candid audit report on a previous scheme here

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/83...

There's some very direct criticism by the University's own auditor of the way that the previous scheme was run."

This may explain why this was probably Mr Brennan's last audit report. Not long after he wrote this he 'left' the university apparently through 'involuntary' severance to be replaced as 'internal auditor' by the very external accountancy giant deloitte (allegedly at the suggestion of Finance Director Mr Fraser, whose love of openness is a legend in GU) - and who I think still have this contract. It might be worth asking the University how much they have paid in fees to deloitte since their replacement of Mr Brennan and how their performance and costs compare to the Internal Audit Service provided by Mr Brennan - and who audits that? Also whether they are so candidly critical of Glasgow's profusion of 'unusual' accountancy practices as Mr Brennan evidently was. An audit of fees to the 'internal' auditor and value for public money might be of some public interest. But who would be the internal auditor of the 'internal' auditor: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Dear FOI Office,

Thank you for your response to my FOI of 5th May, which despite its lateness is very helpful, and in many ways reassuring. I note that the information presented relates only to 2005 to present, despite the request for information from 1999 to present. May I therefore request clarification:

1. Can you confirm therefore that there were NO VS schemes operated by the University between 1999 and 2005?
2. If that was the case will you make this clear and explicit?
3. If however the University did operate VS schemes between 1999 and 2005, I would be grateful if you would provide me with relevant information as requested in the original request similar to that you have provided for 2005 onward.

I note that for 2005 to present you state you do not hold some of the information requested, and that therefore you would be most unlikely to do so for earlier dates. Therefore to simplify and clarify the request, if the answer to question 1 above is that such schemes were operated between 1999 and 2005, would you please provide the following information on any and all schemes operated by the University between 1999 and 2005 as follows:

6 In each case, please provide details of the dates inclusive of start and closing dates for each package period;
7 In the case of each scheme, the number of people who benefited in each case;
8 In each period the average cost per person of each settlement;
9 The total cost to the University of each scheme, and the amount of savings gained by the University.
10 If the answer to question 1 above is that there were no specific schemes for specific periods, but that nevertheless VS packages were offered on an ad hoc basis to individuals, can you provide for each of the years 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004, the numbers of any such individuals in each year who accessed such a package, and the average cost to the University of each settlement.

Please be clear that I am not asking you to identify any individual beneficiaries of any of the above, merely the numbers requested.

Yours sincerely,

M MacLean

FOI Office, University of Glasgow

1 Attachment

Dear M MacLean,

Further to your Freedom of Information request for clarification dated
13 July 2010 timed 19:07 hours. Please find letter of acknowledgement
attached.

You will find that the University's acknowledgement of your information
request for clarification is in PDF (Portable Document Format) file(s)
attached to this email.

The PDF file format is used for electronic distribution because it
preserves the look and feel of the original document complete with
fonts, colours, images, and layout. To open a PDF file you can download
a free program called Acrobat Reader and install it onto your computer
by clicking on to the following URL:

http://www.adobe.co.uk/products/acrobat/...

Yours sincerely,

Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office

Direct Line: +44 (0)141 330 2523
Fax: 0141 330 4920

Gilbert Scott Building
University of Glasgow
University Avenue
Glasgow G12 8QQ

The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401

FOI Office, University of Glasgow

1 Attachment

Dear Mr MacLean,

Please find attached the University's response to your Freedom of
Information (Scotland) Act 2002 request dated 13 July 2010 timed 19:07
hours.

You will find that the University's response to your information request
is in PDF (Portable Document Format) file(s) attached to this email.

The PDF file format is used for electronic distribution because it
preserves the look and feel of the original document complete with
fonts, colours, images, and layout. To open a PDF file you can download
a free program called Acrobat Reader and install it onto your computer
by clicking on to the following URL:

http://www.adobe.co.uk/products/acrobat/...

Yours sincerely,

Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office

Direct Line: +44 (0)141 330 2523
Fax: 0141 330 4920

Gilbert Scott Building
University of Glasgow
University Avenue
Glasgow G12 8QQ

The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401

Diane Scott left an annotation ()

Dear Mr McLean

Thank you for your kind words, glad to be able to help. I have said before that Glasgow University is an oddly managed organisation and the fact that they somehow managed to overlook a previous scheme costing millions of pounds does seem to bear out that judgement.

I note your point about the external "internal" audit. It really is a great shame that internal audit is very much dying off in the public sector. Its happening more and more that internal auditors are being replaced by internal audit services and I for one think that at this time in particular a strong challenge function that is not beholden to management is crucial.

Don't get me wrong some of the external firms can provide a good service and some of the work is of a very high quality indeed but its essentially a different service from that provided by a properly resourced in-house team. An in-house team tends to operate as a check UPON management but an externally provided team usually provide a service TO management. The difference is crucial. I know of a number of firms who are really top drawer but I don't have any experience at all of Deloitte or their predecessor firm Touche Ross.

I can readily understand why managers find it difficult to have one of their peers operating as an officially licensed critic. In my experience which is a bit out of date that is usually why they get replaced by a big firm. You need strong audit committees that can face down strong managers but that is all very very rare in the public sector and in the private sector too for that matter. I have a good friend who chairs a public sector audit committee and the FD tried to replace the in-house provider with a service that is answerable to him. My friend has made it clear that he will resign if this happens and that has dealt with the matter for now but I fear that this type of robust approach is the exception and not the rule.

I had a very very brief look at the report mentioned above on credit cards and I thought this was also very candid and direct.

"Some cardholders have on occasion deliberately incurred personal expenditure (for example travel expenses related to a partner accompanying the cardholder on a business journey), apparently with the intention of reimbursing the University. Despite a considerable degree of effort we have not been able to establish whether reimbursement was effected in all instances. In other instances we have identified expenses which we think may have a personal element but this has not hitherto been challenged.
The list of corporate credit cardholders includes some of the University’s most senior staff and their card statements are counter-signed by other senior members of staff. We believe that part of the reason for the lack of follow up in relation to potential non compliance stems from a reluctance on the part of some of those administering the scheme to challenge senior staff in what is undoubtedly a sensitive area."

You tend not to see that type of plain talking in the reports that firms produce for their clients and the public sector is the poorer for it. The lack of challenge in big organisations, the tendency to go along with what powerful people want irrespective of your own judgment, is a real issue. What a pity!