The appointment of Vogue Consultants to advise on the procurement and management of the contracted out Census services was not in accordance with public procurement procedures. An internal audit review in May 1999 discovered that the contract did not meet ONS's standard terms and conditions. ONS concluded after a thorough review of the quality of work undertaken by Vogue that the consultants should be retained and a new contract was negotiated. In total Vogue were paid£1m for their work.
The£1.02m contract awarded to Chessington to administer payroll services did not run smoothly. There were delays and incorrect payments. 23,000 staff (30 per cent of the total staff) received their payments at least two weeks late. The 5,650 staff who were paid at least four weeks late received additional compensation worth£292,000 in total. Also, ONS is in the process of recovering£500,000 worth of overpayments. There were problems with the accuracy of data submitted by field staff and with the operation of controls designed to flag high value claims for review by ONS's staff. Over 12,000 field staff queried the accuracy of payments they received.
Sir John said:
'The experience of the 2001 Census shows the importance of managing outsourced services. The ONS is to be congratulated in meeting its objectives within budget. I encourage it and any department or agency involved in outsourcing services to take note of my recommendations to ensure that they get value for money from procurement.'
HC 1211 2001-2002
18 October 2002