Monday, 28 July 2014

DVLA perpetuate myth that they make a loss on providing keeper information to parking companies

There has been yet another report stating that the DVLA lose money in providing keeper details to parking companies.

The report states that there was a shortfall last year or around £900,000 in providing this information, and that while the parking companies were charged £2.50 per request, it actually cost £2.84.

In fact, this is a myth, peddled by the DVLA's Department of Misinformation, otherwise know as the Data Sharing Team. Hugh Evans, Corporate Affairs Director of the DVLA, will be smiling into his coffee this morning when his minions report that yet another newspaper, along with the AA and the RAC, have brought into this fiction.

In fact, requesting keeper details is a completely automated process for most parking companies. They send an electronic request to the DVLA, which sends the results back. This is all done by computers, and the individual cost is therefore minimal, a fraction of a penny at best.

While some requests are done manually, these are minimal.

So how do the DVLA bump up the cost?

They assign the running cost of the computers, staff costs building costs and all other costs they can think of to the pot. At first glance, this seems fair. After all, shouldn't the cost of, for instance, running the computers be allocated to the PPCs as well?

The problem is, the computers and everything else are used for far more than just providing keeper details to parking companies.

They are also used for providing keeper details to police and councils, processing car log books, processing MOT, and insurance information, providing statistics to the government, answering FoI request...the list goes on.

By incorrectly allocating as much expense as possible to the parking companies the DVLA make them look bad and the DVLA look good. The actual cost allocations are a closely guarded secret, and FoI requests have been rebuffed each time that they attempt to find out the cost modelling that produced these figures.

The DVLA employ a specific person, Robert Toft, whose job is to stonewall requests, using every bureaucratic trick in the book to make it difficult to get information out of the DVLA. He is remarkably successful in this role, and must surely be in line for several performance award for the way he deftly frustrates and confuses every attempt to get answers from the DVLA.

He is the master of answering a different question to the one which has been asked, dragging out replies to the maximum timescales allowed, and deliberately providing incorrect or misleading information. The Prankster congratulates Hugh Evans in the placement of Robert Toft in his position of gatekeeper for the Department of Misinformation within the DVLA.

The actual information released has been minimal.

FoI replies show there were around 2.6 million requests, costing around £2.84 per request or £7.4 million overall. The breakdown for these costs are given as

Direct costs (including salaries, postage and printing) £1.46 per request, £3,796,000 overall
IT costs £0.78, £2,028,000 overall
Overheads and development costs £0.60 per request, £1,560,000 overall

Although most of the requests are electronic there are around 300,000 manual keeper requests a year. However, the DVLA have admitted they have no idea how many of these are made by private parking companies, and it likely that the vast majority of these are not.

Since postage and printing are only required for manual requests, we could assign a reasonable cost of £1 pr print and post a reply. Even if all 300,000 requests were made by private parking companies this leaves £3,496,000 for salaries, or around 100 full-time people at an average guesstimated salary of £35,000. This is of course, a ridiculous number just to service private parking requests.

IT running costs of £2 million are surprising seeing as wikipediae reports that the database originally cost £5 million to build under contract to EDS in 1996.

It is not entirely obvious what 'development' is necessary, since there have been no apparent changes for a while.

The figures therefore, simply cannot be trusted.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster


  1. If the business model is flawed and the result is a loss on operational costings, then the easiest thing to do is either bump up the cost per DVLA access or stop the mass issuing of the data.

    I wonder what the Treasurer thinks about a department running at a loss.

  2. If it costs £2.84, why don't they just bump the cost up from £2.50 to £3 and make a profit! Typical Government Department!

  3. The DVLA clearly had the same maths teacher as most PPCs!!

  4. Average staff salary will be £17800 (administrative officer grade)
    As regards the IT, like all "assets" there is a written down value (WDV) or depreciation cost. WDV is currently 25% of the wasting asset; this is all part of GAAP (generally accepted accounting procedures) This could be used in a future FoI request i.e 1) Do DVLA use GAAP and if not, why not. 2) What is the total WDV in 2013/14. The DVLA, just like all other government departments, have their accounts audited. Once you have the total WDV figure, you simply multiply it by 25% to get the true IT cost.