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Government Accounting Officer Explains UK Rural Broadband Funding

Thursday, Jun 21st, 2012 (7:54 am) - Score 712

The Accounting Officer for the UK governments Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has released a new statement that explains how the funding allocations for each local broadband project are managed and threatens to reclaim grant funding that has been “materially mismanaged” by local authorities.

Unfortunately the statement itself, which covers the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office’s £530m budget for the roll-out of rural superfast broadband (24Mbps-30Mbps+) to 90% of each local authority area by 2015 and the £150m budget for the Urban Broadband Fund, is somewhat bland and perhaps unsurprisingly concludes that everything is just fine.

The DCMS Accounting Officer concludes:

There is a robust core framework in place which I can rely on as Accounting Officer for DCMS to provide assurance that funds allocated to BDUK are distributed to local bodies on the basis of clearly articulated plans and delivery responsibilities, and that the local bodies will spend the money allocated by BDUK having regard to regularity, propriety and value for money.

The key elements are Assurance Checkpoints throughout the project life-cycle, legal controls on local bodies and democratic accountability to local people. The system provides assurance that the Government’s decentralising agenda can be achieved in relation to the Rural Broadband Delivery Programme without compromising the proper spending of public money.

The statement also warns that “alternative approaches to ensure value for money involving over-arching bi-lateral contracts with key suppliers” would be considered if BDUK determines that a “competitive market does not exist across much of the UK“, which somewhat depends upon your definition of “competitive market“.

The UK is very competitive at the retail level but less so in terms of superfast broadband related telecoms infrastructure, with many big ISPs (e.g. TalkTalk, Sky Broadband etc.) calling for BT and Ofcom to make a truly unbundled (LLU) fibre alternative available (i.e. VULA FTTC still isn’t deemed to be good enough). That’s still some way off, though Ofcom are contemplating the options.

Otherwise there’s not a lot to get excited about in the new statement, which merely tows the government line and avoids any of the more contentious issues (e.g. EU state aid approval for UK broadband projects that fail to meet Europe’s Digital Agenda (30Mbps+) criteria etc.). But if you’re feeling bored..

DCMS Accounting Officer System Statement for Rural Broadband Delivery
http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/Accounting-Officer-System-Statement_v1.pdf

Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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