Failure of the Council's IT System
The Chairman, with the support of the Executive Member for the Business Transformation Portfolio, had asked that this matter be brought to the meeting as urgent business.
The ICT Manager was in attendance to discuss the failure of the Council’s IT system following the storms on Friday, 17 July. He appreciated how frustrated everyone had been and provided details on how it happened, the recovery plans that were in place and how to manage such incidents in the future.
On 17th July, Dereham and the surrounding areas suffered a significant electrical storm. Elizabeth House conducted several lightening strikes, with the result that electrical currents travelled down cables and disabled some of the Council’s communication systems.
The ICT Team had left the matter with the Council’s suppliers, where the expectation had been that the service would be up and running on the Monday, following the storm. The fault could not be found and the internet remained out of action.
The ICT Manager announced that the problem had since been resolved and explained that an internal component on the network had been affected. The new part had been ordered and recovery plans were now in place. The component that had failed had been outside the Council’s domain; however, it was anticipated that the internet would be up and running by the end of the day or in the morning.
The ICT Manager apologised for the problems this had caused the Council, but assured Members that if the same problem occurred again the affect would be minimal. He explained that the ICT Team would now be focusing on the following three areas: prevention, improved contract management (clear lines of responsibility) and resilience (fall over to an alternative).
A Member felt that it would have been helpful if Steria had been represented at the meeting. Members were informed that there were many grey areas within the contract that required immediate attention particularly with regard to receiving an end to end service. The component that had been affected was not covered in the contract; this could have been due to change of management, change of supplier or lack of clarity in scope of contract. The ICT Manager explained that the old contract had been merged into the new one 18 months previously and the contract was due for renewal in another 18 months time.
A Member felt that the ICT Team should focus on identifying things that could go wrong in the future to prevent this happening again. He further felt that with the amount of money that was being spent on the present suppliers, the Council should be receiving a first class service.
The former E Champion pointed out that he had been absolutely assured by Steria that the Council would receive an end to end service. Clearly, this had not happened and he felt that this part of the contract should be checked.
In response to a question as to who would be paying for the new piece of equipment, the ICT Manager advised that Breckland would be paying for it but it was hoped that the costs would be recovered.
The Chairman expressed his misgivings about the service and suggested that an ICT Task & Finish Group should be created to work alongside the ICT Manager
The Strategic Director for Services agreed with the above suggestion as he felt that not only could the Group look at lessons learnt but it could also look at options and procurement processes.
A Member felt that two or three Members ought to follow the whole ICT process through for the duration of the current contract.
(1) a Task & Finish Group be set up to review the ICT contract, to look in more depth at ICT issues and the steps being taken to address them;
(2) the Member Development and Scrutiny Officer invite nominations from the non-executive Members of the Council for the membership of the Task & Finish Group.