Fierce debate over proposal to outsource mail sorting for Wanneroo City Council

A REPORT recommending mail sorting be outsourced caused the most debate at a recent Wanneroo City Council briefing.

The report on the November 3 briefing outlined tenders for mailroom services, recommending the council accept a three-year bid that would cost about $305,000.

But after questions from councillors, staff decided to withdraw the report and take it back to a council forum for further discussion and investigation.

Noting the City received about 229 envelopes a day, councillor Dianne Guise asked why the report recommended the second-ranked tender rather over the first-ranked, and what the actual saving would be.

“What work was done in the City to see where we could save some costs in our operations before going down this path?” she asked.

The report said outsourcing the incoming mail sorting process would be a more effective use of resources, and save $58,409 in employment costs as well as $14,000 on scanning software a year.

Corporate strategy and performance director Noelene Jennings said one of the motivators was the risk issues with mail sorting at the City, which was done in open office areas.

“We should probably open some of those in an isolated area,” she said.

“Other agencies are able to X-ray any suspicious mail or packages.”

Mrs Jennings said it was part of the broader restructure plans and could improving mail tracking for customers.

Cr Sabine Winton asked for information about what other local governments engaged in this type of practice, and whether the tender companies provided a per hour charge.

Cr Brett Treby said they needed information such as the equation of a full time employee saving and cost benefit ratio.

“There needs to be some more rigour around the rationale and what we hope to achieve in savings,” he said.

Mrs Jennings noted the suggestions and said the City would start working on a business case for IT in the future and this could be a test.

Newly elected Cr Samantha Fenn asked what the City had done to improve its 68 per cent scanning rate.

“We either have to go and buy some new equipment ourselves or there’s the opportunity to have a new way of having it delivered,” Mrs Jennings said.

Given the questions, Mrs Jennings said she would withdraw the report and staff would bring it back to a council forum for further discussion and investigation.