Monday, 16 August 2010

Northern Ireland Water - Missing Executive Team Minutes - Departure of David Gilmour

Aye Minister: "Minutes? It feels more like weeks and months!"

The following is from a link on the Northern Ireland Water website to that of the Information Commissioners Office.

Who we are and what we do

Organisational information, structures, locations and contacts.
We would expect information in this class to be current information only.   
  • Roles and responsibilities
Companies should be providing outline and detailed information about their roles and responsibilities, and the roles and responsibilities of people working in them at senior level. It should indicate the relationship with the public authority owning the company.  
  • Articles of Association
  • Board membership
Identification of and biographical details of Board members. Biographical details that are not work related should be published only with consent.  
  • Senior executives
Identification of, responsibilities of and biographical details those making strategic and operational decisions about providing the company’s services.  Biographical details that are not work related should be published only with consent.   
  • Staff structure
  • Contact points
Where possible, give named contacts.  

What we spend and how we spend it

Financial information relating to projected and actual income and expenditure, procurement, contracts and financial audit.
The minimum we would expect is that financial information for the current and previous financial year should be available.
  • Annual accounts
  • Loans sanctioned
  • Procurement procedures
  • Staff and board members’ allowances and expenses  
Details of the allowances and expenses that can be incurred or claimed.  It should include the total of the allowances and expenses incurred by or paid to individual senior staff and management board members by reference to categories. These categories should be produced in line with the company’s policies, practices and procedures and will be under headings like travel, subsistence and accommodation.

What our priorities are and how we are doing

Strategies and plans, performance indicators, audits, inspections and reviews.
We would expect information in this class to be available at least for the current and previous three years.
  • Any reports indicating main priorities and progress against them
  • Annual Report

How we make decisions

Decision making processes and records of decisions.
We would expect information in this class to be available at least for the current and previous two years.
  • Minutes of meetings of the Board
We would expect board minutes and the minutes of similar meetings where decisions are made about providing services to be readily available. This excludes information that is properly regarded as private to the meeting.

Departure of David Gilmour, former NIW Executive, and some minutes issues

What and who do the Northern Ireland Water fiasco and the Rathlin ferry saga have in common? Are there discernible common elements of behaviour?


Murphy (6.48 mins into his piece on UTV player): “.. so the core issue is here is that attention my attention was brought to the fact, initially in relation to one contract that there was something on-toward going on within NIW and I asked for further inquiries into that and that turned up 73 contracts with £24.5 million of awarding of contracts which couldn’t be defended which was done in an improper fashion”

[edited]When was the Minister first made aware of the fact that something on-toward was going on within NIW and by whom? When did he ask for these further inquiries and what was the chain of communication that led to them being carried out? It's not always clear from the July 1 PAC session who is initiating decisions and who is facilitating them.

Added August 18

Online minutes for the fortnightly NIW Executive Meetings are to be brought up-to-date next week. A decision on Board minutes is awaited. A clue to the discontinuation of the publication of the minutes from November 16, 2009, may lie in an email that was sent from MacKenzie to Dixon, an excerpt of which has been published in the PAC record for July 1, 2010:

There are some sensitive souls in here. For example, I say that all future consultancy expenditure has to be approved, In advance, by me — they tell me I am being autocratic — I say — get used to It!

Added 3 September

David Gilmour gave a presentation to the Northern Ireland Water Forum on the 20th May 2009. He expected £19 m savings by year end, some way ahead of the Assembly target, and during the course of the year, in association with Mellor, had nearly halved the expenditure on consultants.

He admitted that their information system on ordering had been woeful but expected the tried and tested Oracle P2P eordering system to be live by the end of June 2009.

So what has all the fuss been about and why were Gilmour’s services disposed of? Will PAC call him to give evidence, if he is willing to participate in such an 'illuminating' inquiry? After all, he was at the heart of procurement.