Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Cornwall accountancy package up to £800k over budget

It's not quite as bad as buying an aircraft carrier, but Cornwall Council's new accounting computer programme is experiencing some costly teething troubles. At present the system is around £800,000 over budget and taking lots of staff time to put right.

The ERP system was bought in order to rationalise the payroll, invoice and accountancy systems and to make it possible for line managers to do a lot more of the financial work rather than having to employ more finance officers.

But the council has asked for additional capabilities compared to the original order and the system does not do everything that it is meant to. This has meant that staff are having to be employed to put things right and this comes at a cost. Today we were told that the additional costs are likely to be around £800,000 and the staff time is, as yet, unquantified.

The council rightly has to bear the cost when it asks for greater capability - but we have to ask why didn't they get it right first time? And worse, officers don't think we will get the money back for the extra costs associated with the bits that simply don't work.

That just seems wrong. If you buy something new for a pre-determined cost then you expect it to work. If it doesn't then you would expect the supplier to put things right for free. Further than that, you would expect that supplier to compensate you for any additional costs incurred whilst things are being put right.

But it appears that this is not the way that Conservative-led Cornwall Council manages taxpayer money.

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