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Contract management update
The Chairman welcomed Uche Olufemi, Contracts and Compliance Officer for leisure and culture contracts, to the meeting.
Mrs Georgia Hawkes, Head of Commissioning and Business Improvement, introduced her report setting out details of progress on the planned improvements to contract management across the Council following an Internal Audit review completed in November 2018.
Mrs Hawkes advised the Committee that:
· Reports on contract management arrangements and planned improvements had been submitted to the Committee in September 2017 and November 2018. In the most recent report Members were informed that the highest value contracts were being well managed, but an Internal Audit report on contract management had returned a Weak level of assurance rating and concluded that whilst there was good practice in the management of leisure and culture contracts, improvements were required corporately.
· Since that time, positive progress had been made; for example, standard contract documents had been created by Mid-Kent Legal Services and put onto the Intranet for all Officers to use. Quarterly spend analysis was being undertaken by the Procurement Team to ensure contracts were in place where they should be and procurement was being carried out in line with the requirements of the Council’s Constitution. It was recognised that good contract management was essential to the delivery of the Council’s objectives so a risk and management actions for contract management had been drafted for inclusion in the Council’s corporate risk register.
· In addition, temporary staffing arrangements had been put in place to ensure that staff resources were available to deliver the actions required to address the findings of the Internal Audit report and improve contract management across the Council.
· The Contracts and Compliance Officer for leisure and culture contracts had taken on additional responsibilities for three months from March 2019 to deliver improvements in the corporate control of contract management. An additional temporary staff resource was being recruited to ensure that the monitoring and management of leisure and culture contracts was not detrimentally affected.
· From 1 April 2019, the full substantive role of the Procurement and Contracts Manager would be covered on a temporary basis until 31 December 2019. This arrangement would allow further exploration of potential closer working opportunities with other Councils whilst ensuring that there was additional resource and oversight given to contract management arrangements at management level.
· Looking at the longer term, consideration was being given to whether a permanent role covering the corporate elements of contract management, including ensuring good practice in the management of delivery of contracts as well as oversight of the use of contract documents, was required.
· Improvements which were planned for implementation within the next three months included:
Introduction of corporate contract management guidance;
Delivery of training on good contract management and the new guidelines;
Introduction of improved processes for better central procurement and contract document oversight and control;
Review of all existing key contracts to confirm that exit plans are a requirement and are in place; and
Introduction of a central digital repository for completed and signed contract documents. ... view the full minutes text for item 94