Sunday, May 28, 2017

Decoding BBC expenses

An FOI enquirer has tried to find out what records the BBC holds on expenses claims from employees working in HR. They were first told it would take too long to calculate; they asked for an internal review, as the Act allows, and a BBC information rights expert has backed the 'too long to calculate' response. But in giving the response, it seems not even the BBC can work out if a department as a whole is a little hard on the expenses pedal.

"In considering this request, the BBC has made a reasonable estimation of the time it would take to conduct the search. The requested information is held in a BBC Business Warehouse, one of the data repositories used by BBC Finance systems. The expenses information in this system does not contain any information on the team a particular staff member belongs too, nor does it contain their job title. This information would have to be sourced by matching each staff number to Human Resources (HR) data for each individual. This means that the BBC would need to manually enter each employee’s name to confirm or deny whether they had made an expense claim. "

"As indicated in the original response, there are approximately 800 employees in the BBC People. As a modest estimate, given the number of people employed in BBC People, I believe that it would approximately 5 minutes per employee to collate the requested, which does not account for complex matters. In a large organisation like the BBC, correlating this data set across the Finance and HR departments would be a significant search. Therefore, I am satisfied that the BBC would exceed the appropriate limit of 18 hours."

The internal reviewer says he/she can't think of a way the enquirer might narrow the request, to get at least some sort of partial answer. I wonder if entering the cost codes 'owned' by HR, which form part of each expense claim, might help. But then, what do I know of SAP Enterprise Data Business Warehouses ?

For more on the 'approximately 800 employees in the BBC People", see my earlier post. 

1 comment:

  1. ....or indeed data capture by authoriser. Surely, data HR would want for its own use; unless it's thought to be a department too unwieldy to manage. Maybe BBC should be asked to report what KPIs it does use. The obfuscation over FOI requests ought to embarrass a public service organisation. If there is nothing to hide it should get on the front foot. The more that is in the public domain the fewer ad hoc requests for information will be made.


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