The report provided details of decisions on the use of Standing Order 24 (decisions taken urgently) or the Waiving of Contract Standing Orders for the above period.
In consideration of this report, Members were reminded that they were not questioning the merits of the decisions taken but were focussing on why decisions were taken as urgent or why contract standing orders needed to be waived.
The Chief Internal Auditor provided background information on the reviewing of Cabinet Member Urgent Decisions and their reason for urgent decisions being explained at the Committee as well as the Waiving of Contract Standing Orders (CSOs).
The Waiving of Contract SOs referred to The Housing Support Grant, the report attached had the Chief Internal Auditor’s comments to the column on the right. On this occasion there was no need to call-in officers or Cabinet Members but to note the report.
Comments from the Committee:
Dr Barry, Co-opted Member queried that the review and new way of commissioning would be completed by the time the extended contracts would come to an end. The Chief Internal Auditor would look into this and get back to the Committee.
The Chair mentioned that given the report was October 2021 the length of time taken to get to the Committee there was little that could have been done in any event should anything had arisen. The Chair therefore asked was this done in a timely manner. Secondly, whilst the urgency provision was used, lots of the contracts had been in place for five or six years. Therefore surely the managers would have known that this was coming to an end. In light of this, was there anywhere in the organisation a contracts register which would have flagged these issues up. The Chair would want to be assured that these were going through the correct process before March 2023 and that the Committee did not want another urgent report. Were the Head of Finance and Monitoring Officer content in dealing with the issue. The Chief Internal Auditor explained that these reports would come to the Committee on a quarterly basis. This report had unfortunately slipped through the net and was not reported in the appropriate quarter. On the second point yes, there was a corporate contract register and the Chief Internal Auditor would check that the contracts were on there. This was a valid comment to justify calling in the Cabinet Member and officer to explain why there was a delay in renewing those particular contracts. The Chair mentioned that it put the relevant officers and Council in a very difficult position and there were processes in place that people needed to comply with. The Chair would be guided by the Chief Internal Auditor on whether the Cabinet Member and Head of Service should be called to Committee, however the Chair wanted reassurance not to be in the same state as 12 months ago. The Chief Internal Auditor would contact the Head of Service regarding this issue and would get a status report and would bring back to committee.
§ The Committee considered whether the reasons for the urgency/waiving of contract standing orders and noted the decision.
§ The Committee requested clarity on the matter by way of an update at the next Committee as the works had already been extended.
§ The Committee put a marker down to not see this as a regular occurrence, otherwise the relevant Cabinet Member and Head of Service would be called in to justify the reasons for their actions.