Local government aficionados (yes they do exist) have been closely watching events in Essex where the county council is planning to outsource many of its functions to the private sector.
The local authority is meant to be picking a private partner from a shortlist of two names, IBM and TI Systems. Up to £5.4bn of services could be outsourced.
The agreement was supposed to be announced on May 1 but has been delayed for five weeks or more. Previously, councillors were talking about a decision in April.
I’m told the delay is so that the prospective partners can have more detailed discussions on the IT element of the outsourcing contract. Readers of this blog will remember this piece where I pointed out that Essex council is in legal discussions with BT over a termination fee after axeing its as provider of IT services. That 10-year contract was supposed to go on until 2012.
I asked Essex County Council how likely the deal was to go ahead. A spokesman said there would not be “outsourcing from the word go”. Instead, a partner would be chosen – eventually – and then there would be the detailed discussions and negotations about what would be outsourced.