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Denbighshire’s Council’s contract management slammed in internal report

A council’s ability to manage contracts was slammed in an internal report which showed bosses unable to agree who’s responsible and others not working to guidelines.

The report, which was put before Denbighshire’s governance and audit committee last week, gave a “low assurance” for the way the authority manages contracts.

It emerged only four of 14 actions, recommended to tighten up procedures last July by auditors, had been completed.

The audit follow-up report to the committee highlighted seven major risks to contract management and three actions which were not yet due.

Only three major actions and one moderate action had been completed.

New roles and responsibilities have been devised so managers in each service can track contracts using an automated system, after they have “scored each contract for risk”.

However the report said “tasks are not being created at the outset to monitor performance” which is the responsibility of contract managers – but councillors heard no one can agree on who should have responsibility for contract management in each service.

The report said: “There is limited evidence pre-contract risk forms are being completed.

“There are a few examples of significant or strategic contracts being captured on service risk registers.”

In the original report it criticised how big contracts were not risk assessed which meant managers could be unprepared and “major risks could materialise and cause significant impact where it could have been avoided”.

This was an issue with the management of the Queen’s buildings contract which was slammed by the council’s audit team and is effectively going back to the drawing board with new principal contractors.

Auditor Maeve Puleston-Jones said: “This is very much dependent on the implementation by services (of the contract management strategy) at the procurement stage to get it up and running.

“We are maintaining a low assurance rating for this.”

Legal services officers Gary Williams apologised to councillors for not running the recommendations for the new contract procedures and scoring of contracts past the senior leadership team (SLT) until two weeks ago.

He said “it was my responsibility and I apologise” for not getting the document approved sooner.

The team has now approved the procedures for contract scoring and tracking and a revised date of October 31 had been agreed with senior bosses at the council for the remaining audit actions to be completed.

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