Public Services > Devolved

Edinburgh raises questions over CGI performance

David Bicknell Published 29 August 2017

Governance, Risk and Best Value committee meeting today sets up workshop to discuss options following concerns highlighted in ICT Programme report


The City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) is to set up a workshop to investigate the current programme of works within ICT in the city, including the relationship with ICT partner CGI which came under some scrutiny at a Governance, Risk and Best Value committee meeting held this morning.

It follows the publication of a report by the council “ Status of the ICT Programme ” discussed at this morning’s meeting which raises some criticism of the service being delivered by CGI, whether the service has improved and what contractual remedies are open to the council over the CGI relationship.

News of the report and CEC’s scrutiny of the CGI relationship in light of the report’s conclusions, is hardly ideal timing for CGI, which is also trying to conclude a deal with nearby Glasgow under the framework contract CGI has with Edinburgh.

The council discussed some of the issues with CGI briefly this morning but decided because of commercial confidence not to go into too much detail, preferring to discuss them at a workshop in the near future.

The report, however, does suggests that there have been some problems in the relationship, though it points out that CGI’s performance has improved.

The report says, “From January 2017, there have been some improvements in the CGI performance, service has improved with very few critical faults, down to an average of 4 per month, the change backlog has reduced by 40% and some projects have been delivered or are progressing to plan e.g. Libraries, Parent Pay, Room Bookings, and Local Area Network (LAN) upgrade.

“However, CGI are still underperforming in numerous areas and consequently council staff are investing a large amount of time and effort in getting the programme back on track.”

The report suggests that most of its major programmes are at least 12 months late and there are several still in a state of re-plan which is impacting its ability to transform services. It adds that “there are still some areas of delivery that require resolution, for example the service desk experience needs to dramatically improve.”

The report says that since the contract commenced CGI have underperformed on the contractual commitments. Transformation programmes have missed the original delivery dates, and in some cases a revised delivery date, meaning that the council has been unable to realise the benefits and/or savings envisaged.

The report says there have been “numerous senior management meetings with CGI regarding their overall performance and there have been several legal letters on the same subject. On every occasion, CGI, have committed to improve their overall performance and there have been some improvements but not at the pace the contract specifies or the council requires.”

However, the report points out that CGI has made progress in delivering upon the community benefit outcomes included as part of the contract. Over the initial term, the Community Benefits aspect of the contract provided an obligation on CGI’s behalf to create 220 jobs, 60 Modern Apprenticeships as well as investing in Community outcomes such as volunteering, and funding under privileged children into Higher Education.

CGI also pledged to channel 25% of all contract spend via locally based small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and to provide funding for Edinburgh based new business start-ups and digital inclusion programmes. So far, the report says, CGI has created around 118 jobs and 22 Modern Apprenticeships, as well as sponsoring two students through degree courses with more funding being provided for a new cohort in 2017/18.

The report added that spending with Edinburgh based SMEs is on track at currently 18%. CGI has also provided funding to the Lord Provost’s One City Trust, a ‘Computational Thinking’ initiative supporting the training of Primary School teachers to become advocates of digital communication and IT literacy, as well as initiatives to improve digital inclusion via Tap Into IT, ACE IT and the Digital Skills Academy.

In the committee meeting, the council’s executive director of resources Stephen Moir said, “We’re trying to present both a fair and a balanced position. It’s fair to say that there has been some progress with our external ICT supplier. But as you’ll also see from the report there are also areas where performance is not meeting our expectations and is not delivering the services benefits we would have anticipated.”

Bruce Strang, chief information officer and Head of ICT, speaking about the commercial levers the council has with CGI, said, “Because we still have a large amount of programme activity, I am keeping those levers in play for now, because I want to keep them motivated on delivering those programmes. Realistically because we’re behind, we could call them in at any point, should we desire. But there are other commercial considerations which we’ll talk through in the workshop that we’re holding on the table and but we could actually claim those at any point in time.”

A council spokesperson said: “Delays have been experienced across several ICT infrastructure projects since the beginning of the contract with CGI, which we are working hard with them to address.  From the start of this year there have been improvements in performance against the contract and we will continue to apply robust governance arrangements, at a senior level, to ensure that delivery against the contract continues to improve.” 

“Despite these transitional issues, several key projects have been delivered or are progressing well, including the end user computer project and Local Area Network (LAN) upgrade, as part of the CGI contract, which is set to save the council at least £6m a year.”

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