Kent County Council have now responded to us regarding the missing £142 million. In an email Mr Andy Wood (left) KCC’s finance officer has sent the following to our public face.
‘Dear Mr XXXXXXX
We have now found the answer to the incomplete May 2014 data:
The output on kent.gov.uk shows that the report published for May 2014 only contains suppliers with a supplier name starting alphabetically from ‘TON…..’ onwards. i.e. if you sort the report by supplier name the first that appears is Tonbridge Day Nursery, hence why only £16m of data value. We have re-run this and it should have been approximately £152m.
The person who up-loaded the May 2014 data has since left the organisation. However, we are investigating how this could have happened and what checks are being done to make sure this can’t happen again.
The correct data will be uploaded onto kent.gov asap.
We will be back in touch with a response to your other points
So the £142 million is not down the back of the sofa, thankfully.
However we have reviewed the Kent Data and we have discovered a very large data breach by KCC in their spend data (the ICO have been informed) and they are missing nearly £500,000 pounds in another incident separate from the £142 million.
Yesterday evening our public face wrote to Mr Wood to inform him that 494 names had been left in the Oct 2015 spending data. It took them over five hours to take the page down. This data had remained in the public domain for 13 months prior to us mentioning it to Mr Wood. Some of the people in the data had personal data revealed and potentially sensitive data; which encompasses a wide range of information and can include: your ethnic or racial origin; political opinion; religious or other similar beliefs; memberships; physical or mental health details; personal life; or criminal or civil offences. These examples of information are protected by your civil rights.
Now for that missing £500,000.
In the Excel version of the Oct 2015 data was a tab called “Sheet 1” which contained 494 records that did not appear on the results tab. The value of payments from these records is £493,684.
Judging by their supplier classification and their subjective descriptions (see below) many of these excluded payments should not have been redacted, let alone removed altogether. And it should have gone into the spend data for that particular month – Oct 2015 but it did not. So it now raises the question how many other other months have monies missing incorrectly? What else are they redacting when they should not be? How many months between 2013 and Oct 2016 have they redacted improperly? How much money is that all in all which could be missing from the spend data?
By KCC removing “redacted” spend data at source skews the results and makes comparisons with other councils’ data less meaningful
If some data is excluded on a regular basis, there is a danger the practice may escalate due to abuse. The public has no guarantee that the data is complete or reliable – which is likely to harm the authority’s reputation for transparency.
In some months between 2013 & 2016 categories have been left blank, again impoverishing the data and rendering it useless for analysis. For example in the June 2016 dataset nearly 1,900 records representing £18 million of spend have a blank in the Directorate field. Why is that?
KCC seem to have a real problem with their spend data. It seemingly does not reflect reality . It has revealed personal data about individuals due to sloppiness and lack of attention to detail and there’s that missing £500,000, which Mr Wood has promised we’ll have an answer to in the next few days.
As soon as we know, you’ll know where that missing half million has gone.