Scottish Government Executive Team were made aware of CAP system conflict of interest at ‘Ask ET’ session and failed to act

Documents have come to light that show that the entire executive team were made aware of the conflict of interest on the highly troubled CAP system long before they acted upon it.

This in itself was strongly criticised by the Audit Commission in their report into the CAP System project in May, 2016.

The following emails were exchanged with the Executive Teams own Communications Manager, prior to the meeting and these questions and points were raised in person by a whistleblower on the project:

Directors,

As you know, the next meeting of the Strategic Board is taking place in Saughton House on Thursday, March 5. As part of the Board’s visit to Saughton, the Executive Team will host an ‘Ask ET’ session for staff from 1130 – 1230.

Colleagues can book a place on events online, and post questions in advance of the event on Yammer using the hashtag #asket. It’s an opportunity for Saughton colleagues to find out more about the work of the Executive Team, and vice versa.

I’d be very grateful if you could encourage colleagues in your area to book a place. They will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Please let me know if you have any queries.

Kind regards,

Jacqui Randle

The following questions were submitted to the Executive Team on 2nd March, 2015:

asket What steps were taken to ensure the project officers did not benefit financially to roll off existing people from the AFRC project and replace them with cheap labour? How have those safeguards been measured and validated?

asket Given that it takes on average two weeks to bring on board new people to the AFRC project and that each team change so far has led to between 3 and 5 days project downtime, has the project recovered the 15 or so man years of lost time caused by rolling off productive people to replace them with cheap labour? How are you measuring the effectiveness of these decisions and what evidence have you seen to validate these decisions?

asket Considering thsat there is 29% youth unemployment in the local area, including IT graduates, what efforts did you take to recruit from this resident workforce for the AFRC project before seeking staff overseas?

From these written questions and the subsequent oral questions that were presented, it is clear that there remains a desperate need for a full inquiry into the CAP system debacle.

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 MPs and MSPs referred to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner for CAP System Cover-Up


It would appear that some MPs and MSPs have been referred to the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards for failing to act on constituent complaints about the CAP system shenanigans in Scottish Government.

According to reports, both  permanent and contract staff alike have been complaining to their MPs and MSPs since early 2014 – with little or no response.

With the recent publication of the damning Audit Commissioners Report into the project; complaints have now been referred to Parliamentary Standards about those MPs and MSPs who stood idly by and did nothing when this was brought to their attention by their constituents.

Amongst the complaints referred:

– failing to act on constituent complaints of corporate and government institutional racial and gender discrimination and abuse

– failing to act on constituent complaints of public sector fraud 

– failing to act on constituent complaints of discrimination against whistleblowers

– failing to act on constituent complaints of misuse of public money

Scottish Government knives out for CAP system whistleblowers


It has been alleged that permanent staff who raised and continue to raise concerns about the CAP system both to senior managers and to Audit Scotland have been discriminated against by HR and senior civil servants.

Amongst the allegations:

Some staff who were on a trial period of 9 months apparently raised issues and first had their trial period extended and then were dismissed

Other staff were put on permanent gardening leave in the hope that they would resign out of boredom

Cheap words from John Swinney

It would appear that whilst John Swinney would like to ‘thank the whistleblower’ Scottish Government itself would like to seek out and destroy whistleblowers.

Same people discriminating

Interesting to note is that the same names keep popping up in the discrimination claims leading to concerns that some senior civil servants may have a vested interest in silencing whistleblowers and that certain members of HR may be trying to cover up their own failings

Scottish Government whistleblower : “first person fired by Prabhu was working to pay for care for his dying wife”

As the former Agricultural Minister, Richard Lochhead, spends more time with his family after revealing his wife is battling cancer; the original whistleblower into the CAP system debacle has spoken out about the inhumane treatment of dedicated contractors who were dismissed by Prabhu – the Delivery Director.

John Dunning refers to his diary and recalls the first sacking to make way for Spectromax domination :

I had worked with Keith on previous projects and he was a nice guy. He had a dry sense of humour and at lunch time about 10 or 15 of us would sit together and there was good banter. It was a very friendly environment.

In November I noticed a change in Keith’s behaviour in that he stopped sitting with the group at lunch times. He still got on well with everybody as individuals but had taken to sitting alone for lunch.

On the third or fourth occasion I decided to speak with him about it and asked if everything was alright. Ironically, at the time Scottish Government was displaying posters about caring for colleagues and spotting signs of depression.

Keith’s wife was dying. It was terminal and he was working away from home during the week to pay for her care. At weekends he went home and cared for her himself – but it was tough.

I offered any support I could but particularly offered to help him find a counsellor in Scotland who he could talk to. That was on the Wednesday.

On the Friday he was fired for ‘not working weekends’.

I was working in J Spur and Keith was two rows of tables in front of me, near the exit. A CGI manager came in and tapped him on the shoulder. Keith was then paraded through the whole office into a side room.

A few minutes later they were back out and Keith was clearing his desk.

I remember clearly – I was over like a shot to find out what the hell was going on. He had been let go because he had refused to work weekends.

There was no phone reception in the Spur – we could only get reception in the corridors – so I went out into the corridor to phone my agency – ironically the same agency as Keith and see what they knew.

What I saw and and heard whilst standing in that corridor was appalling and later formed part of my statement to the police.

Dominic Prabhu was standing in the corridor in his infamous bomber jacket and had a list of all the people working on the project. He and the CGI manager pored over it (I forget his name, but we came to name him The Reaper because if he tapped you on the shoulder, you were gone). Dominic’s finger stopped on another name. He took out his phone and called somebody whom he addressed as Ian (later identified as Ian Norman). He then turned back to the Reaper, told him that Ian had approved it, and sent him back in to sack the next person.

This continued, one by one, throughout the day.

On the Monday a Tier 2 migrant who had come via Dominic’s agency Spectromax was sitting in Keith’s chair and was doing his work. 

I kept in touch with Keith. 

His wife died a few months later.

Audit Report into failing CAP System confirms Delivery Director conflict of interest

A whistleblower in 2014 reported what he believed to be a serious conflict of interest when the CAP system Delivery Director replaced swathes of UK workers with contractors through his own agency – many apparently on  Tier2 visas which are only supposed to be issued when there are no resident workers available with the requisite skills to do the job.

18 months later the CAP system has become an unmitigated disaster, leaving a £400million hole in the rural economy.

In the same period, accounts from the delivery director’s own agency have shown an increase in assets from £80k to £3.5million.

Today the report from the Audit Commission confirms a conflict of interest that the Scottish Government failed to even register for 8 months let alone act on.



Dominic Prabhu, Delivery Director, denied any conflict of interest in a statement to the BBC last year


key points from the audit report (paragraphs 123 onwards)

In December 2014, the Scottish Government was notified by a whistle-blower that the delivery director owned an agency that provided both CGI and a recruitment agency used by the Scottish Government with the staff it needed for the programme.

This meant there was an opportunity for the delivery director to benefit financially from the programme recruiting from his company. 

There were opportunities for the delivery director to influence recruitment decisions and be involved in the quality assessments for people recruited through his agency.

In January 2016, the Scottish Government identified that out of 107 contractors who were on a day rate higher than that agreed in the original framework with CGI, 97 had been recruited by CGI through the delivery director’s agency

The delivery director was … able to sign off overtime claims for contractors … coming through his agency

The delivery director should not have been on the resources group and allowed a direct involvement in recruitment decisions. 

The arrangements that were in place were not strong enough to address the risks and did not ensure value for money.

The delivery director’s conflict of interest was formally recorded on the register… eight months after the Scottish Government was notified of the conflict.

The delivery director was removed from the programme in January 2016.

CGI still uses staff employed through his recruitment agency on the programme

The audit report can be found here: audit-report

Audit Scotland knew all along about CAP system failings

Audit Scotland has issued a request for comments on Futures Program CAP system, but the truth is they already knew and completely failed to act.

  
This site has seen correspondence between whistleblowers and Audit Scotland that were sent almost weekly from December 2014 to March 2015 and have seen other documents and statements that pre-date that.

Whilst it is reassuring that Audit Scotland is finally acting it is concerning that they only ever seem to act after the event.

Indeed, one email seen dated 9th March, 2015 and addressed to Audit Scotland and copied to both Richard Lochhead and the First Minister showed the exasperation one whistleblower had with Audit Scotland themselves and is quoted in full below:

++

 I should like to thank Michael xxx of Audit Scotland who has emailed me to reassure me that “We will reflect on the relevant concerns you have raised to inform our ongoing monitoring of the Programme”

Wonderful news. I will most certainly sleep well tonight knowing that Audit Scotland are monitoring the project, just as they monitored the Edinburgh Tram system and even provided ongoing reports right up to the very end, after which Herald Scotland reported

It is understood Edinburgh City Council could consider another court tangle involving its own arm’s-length company.

It was set up to deliver major transport projects in the city and a firm that provided it with advice.

The news comes as an online campaign and petition was launched for a public inquiry into how the project cost £776 million, more than the original £545m, and arrived three years late.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “As we have said on many occasions before we would welcome a public inquiry.

“We would then intend to meet with the council to discuss how any inquiry could be best structured to establish clear lessons for similar projects going forward.

[Daniel Donaldson] said: “Lessons have to be learned concerning how large scale, public infrastructure projects of this type are procured, managed and audited for public value.

“If lessons are not learned from the Edinburgh Trams project, there is a real risk that we will all pay the price again in the future.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/mobile/news/home-news/trams-may-spark-new-court-fight.24356611

It is also reassuring to read the various reports Audit Scotland produced during and after the construction of the Scottish Parliament Building

http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/docs/central/2000/nr_000919_new_parliament_building.pdf

Yes, I am definitely reassured to know that you are monitoring this project in the same manner that you monitored the Parliament Building and the Edinburgh Tram System.

Let me guess – another report in 5 years time to reiterate that “lessons must be learned”?

No wonder Scotland appears to blunder from hundred million pound failure to hundred million pound failure.

Imagine if Audit Scotland ran the fire service

“Yes, there was a fire. We monitored it. It spread throughout Edinburgh and raised most of the city to the ground. We must learn lessons for next time. We’ve appointed a committee to consider trying to extinguish the next fire.”

Or if Audit Scotland ran the police service

“Yes, there were a number of crimes. We monitored them. Unchecked, they too spread like wildfire. We must learn lessons for next time. We’ve appointed a committee to consider trying to mitigate crime in the future.”

I look forward to your report in 2020 detailing the lessons that you must learn when the AFRC project becomes a financial and political disaster – albeit “monitored” by Audit Scotland all the way to the very end.

At least I’ve tried to wake you sorry lot up to what is going on.






Failed CAP System could bring down the Government after all but destroying the rural economy with failed payments?


Once standing proud to dispel rumours in May, 2015 that the CAP system was going to fail – the management team that tried to reassure us then subsequently went on to deliver that failure.

Now Jim Walker, a former farmers union leader has warned that the debacle over late farm payments is going to affect SNP election chances in the countryside.

Meanwhile, Spectromax Solutions, the agency owned by the Delivery Director of the CAP system reported a 4000% increase in turnover in 2014/15 – the year that it supplied migrant workers to the project and replaced UK workers that he first got rid of.

Both Nicola Sturgeon and Richard Lochhead, the agricultural minister, were informed by more than one whistleblower of the mass sackings of dedicated UK workers who knew the CAP system inside out, and that these professionals were being replaced with cheap and relatively unqualified migrant workers.

They were informed that these actions would serve to sabotage the project if unchecked and yet still failed to act.

The system has since failed and the farmers and rural Scotland are paying the price.

Ironically the SNP wants independence from the UK but wants to keep giving Scottish jobs to cheap, relatively unqualified migrant workers who are expected to work long hours for little pay and who serve only to make their gang masters very rich.

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/business/farming/839502/farm-payments-crisis-will-hit-snps-election-hopes/

http://www.thescottishfarmer.co.uk/news/computer-says-yes.27016293