- 9 May 2018
FOI reference: FOI/18/01175
Date received: 19 April 2018
Date responded: 8 May 2018
1. The draft contract supplied in autumn 2016 by the Scottish Government to Aberdeen City Council or to the returning officer appointed by Aberdeen City Council per RPA 1983 s41(1), with any accompanying documentation and covering letter, for the supply of electronic counting services by CGI Group and their contractors to Aberdeen City Council for the 2017 local elections in a framework agreement in which the Scottish Government was the contracting authority;
2. Specifically I would like to see any communication from the Scottish Government advising any local authorities or returning officers on the recovery of VAT on the input costs in these contracts with CGI;
3. I would like to know from which line in the Budget (Scotland) Act 2017 the funds to reimburse local authorities for their core electronic counting costs in these contracts with CGI for the 2017 local elections were charged.
In relation to your first request, I attach a copy of a letter from the Scottish Government to all returning officers, dated 14 July 2016, enclosing the template for the services contract between individual local authorities and CGI IT UK Ltd. A copy of the template is also attached. This template was the one which was made available on the Scottish Government SharePoint site for use by returning officers and which is referenced in section 10, and other places, of the Buyers Guide. The Buyers Guide and Supplementary Guidance Note were issued to returning officers by email on 19 October 2016 and copies of the covering email and the guidance are attached.
The covering email mentions an email from Alex Mowat dated 7 October. We have been unable to find a copy of this email and we think it was probably just notifying returning officers that the Guide was about to be issued and it was not considered for retention on the official record.
On your second request, I attach a copy of a letter from the Scottish Government to the returning officer for Aberdeen City Council dated 29 May 2017. This letter explains the process for reimbursement of e-counting costs and specifically indicates that VAT should not be added to the amount being reclaimed. Similar letters were issued to all returning officers. As the contracts were between individual returning officers and CGI, returning officers would be responsible for ensuring the correct VAT treatment.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, we have had to make some redactions because exemptions under section s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.
On your final request, funding to support delivery of local government elections was included in line 2 of schedule 1 to the Budget (Scotland) Act 2017 which stated:
"2. Through their Finance and the Constitution portfolio, for use by the Scottish Ministers on: the running and capital costs of the Scottish Public Pensions Agency; expenditure on committees, commissions and other portfolio services; expenditure on corporate and central services; expenditure on protocol; costs associated with referendums; expenditure on strategic communications with various audiences; funding to support delivery of parliamentary elections; funding to support delivery of local government elections; support for the running costs of the Scottish Futures Trust Limited." The full Budget Act can be viewed at:
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. Redaction of email addresses of recipients and copy recipients have been made as appropriate. This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House