West Lindsey

District council IT supplier under fire

An IT supplier has come under fire in a report before West Lindsey District Council regarding an outsourced waste payment system contract.

Civica, which works with a number of authorities, has been criticised for issues, delays, a lack of communication and poor customer service after the council asked it to provide variable payment options for trade waste.

A report to the Governance and Audit Committee describes how the authority’s Trade Waste Service wanted the current payment system to be developed to allow people to pay annually or monthly and through a variety of methods.

The report states that the request, made in 2016, was ‘due to the increasing number of customers and the frequent amendment to their requirements’ adding that ‘the administration for invoicing was becoming inefficient’.

It says: “The current system is able to produce all the relevant payment terms however it is unable to process variable monthly direct debits.

“The management of invoices is labour intensive with cancellations and new invoices being raised to ensure accurate billing for changes in requirements.”

An initial £15,000 quote from Civica, was ‘not supported’ as it wasn’t considered value for money.

However, in February 2017, a ‘low cost’ alternative working ‘within the limitations of the system’ was agreed at a cost of £1,500.

After a lack of progress over the next few months though, it was revealed that following a short illness, the consultant working on the project had retired – the council says they had ‘no communication in this regard from Civica’.

They say in their report that in July of last year it was found that the work undertaken had ‘not been developed in the correct way’ and Civica said they would not be able to finalise it or support it in the future.

According to the authority Civica then quoted for 12 consultancy days at a cost of £12,600.

However, it adds: “The Strategic Finance and Business Manager was therefore insistent that Civica finalise the project at the original cost, due to the issues and delays experienced and the lack of communication and poor customer service we had received.”

Civica agreed to keep the original £1,500 price and has now allocated a new consultant to the project, agreeing to support it in the future.

The authority will be told on Tuesday night that work has been ongoing since then and the testing phase is almost complete, with the new process working as expected and only one issue to be dealt with before it goes ‘live’.

Members at the committee will be told the system will be live for the end of June, ready for the July billing cycle.

Civica have been contacted for comment on the report.