18 December 2009 | Allie Anderson
Kent County Council has come under fire for allegedly breaching procurement rules in the award of a deal to review its internet TV channel, Kent TV.
The council’s guidelines stipulate that at least three written quotes should be sought before awarding contracts of £8,000 and above. But councillor Trudy Dean, Liberal Democrat opposition leader of the Conservative-led council, discovered the authority had failed to secure any additional quotes before awarding the deal to review the success of Kent TV to consultants Capgemini.
Dean said: “Members need a reliable, independent and robust report to help them make the decision on whether to extend the Kent TV contract beyond the two-year pilot. Because Kent County Council bent the rules, members cannot be sure whether Capgemini were the best people to do the job.”
The Lib Dems also claimed the decision to bypass normal procedures was made by the council’s CEO, Peter Gilroy, who also chairs the Kent TV board.
The authority defended its handling of the contract and denied any wrongdoing. A spokeswoman said in a statement: “The original verbal quote for this work was that it would be ‘below £8,000’. Under the council’s procurement rules this would not require council staff to obtain three written quotes. When the final invoice was received it included additional work, making it exactly £8,000. The chief executive made a judgment that it should be paid.”
Capgemini’s 31-page report examining, among other things, the cost-effectiveness of the TV deal said there was “not sufficient evidence” that the internet channel, which has reportedly so far cost the council almost £1.8 million, had fulfilled its objective to generate cost savings through reduced paper usage.
Kent TV was launched in September 2007 initially as a two-year pilot scheme. In the summer, the contract was extended until March 2010 to allow time for a review of the channel, which was conducted by Capgemini during July and August.
The decision whether to continue broadcasting Kent TV is expected to be made early next year.