The Insurance and Risk Business Advisor presented a report to the Committee on Strategic Risk Monitoring, covering the period July – September 2020.
The Chairman asked why the likelihood and impact scores had been reduced for the performance, resilience and security of IT systems, which seemed to be anomaly compared to other organisation which saw this as an area of increased risk.
The Deputy Chief Executive said this reduction had been the culmination of a sustained effort to improve cyber security. The Council had replaced its network, improved security and increased its ability to recover from cyber-attacks, which reduced the potential impact of an attack.
The Insurance and Risk Business Advisor said the Council was currently tendering insurance contracts and planned to obtain cover for cyber-attacks. Many of these insurance products also included some testing and monitoring of systems. The progress of this tendering process and potential insurance-based solutions would also be reflected in this report to the Committee going forward.
Councillor Corpe asked what the perceived risk of using third party video conferencing technology, such as Zoom, was. He said that the Council had been using this software for many months now and it seemed rather secure. Arguably, remote meetings posed less of a risk than physical meetings, so would this be considered as a long-term option.
The Deputy Chief Executive said there were some concerns shortly after the Council began using this technology, including about unauthorised persons accessing video conferences. However, Zoom had quickly implemented new security features that reduced this risk and made the technology secure. The Council would soon roll out a full version of Microsoft Teams, but it was likely to maintain some licenses to use Zoom for larger meetings. Discussions were continuing on how remote meetings and other remote services utilised during the COVID-19 pandemic could be continued to the Council’s benefit, particularly in view of the savings that must to be made.
Councillors Stowe and Alder said there were some drawbacks to remote working, such as reduced human contact and potential difficulties with technological solutions.
The Chairman asked about the practise of monitoring credit scores of contractors to mitigate their potential poor performance.
The Head of Strategic Finance and Property said that this practise, as well as monitoring the trade press, was useful to detect any possible early indicators that a contractor was in financial difficulty.
The Chairman asked whether the fall in the value of recycled materials would create a hole in the Council’s budget. He also asked whether alternative waste solutions in partnership with other Councils had been considered.
The Head of Strategic Finance and Property said that the value of materials had fallen significantly. Under the Alternative Finance Model, an agreement with Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), recycling credits had been granted to the districts when recycling increased in relation to residual waste. However, the proportion of residual waste had increased significantly during the COVID-19 lockdown, which mean the Council had not received any credits, which increased the financial pressure. It was likely that HCC would not renew this agreement next year, but discussions continued with HCC to find a mutually beneficial arrangement. The permutations of the fall in values of materials would be reflected in future reports to the Committee.
RESOLVED – that the report be received.