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UPDATE The Broadband Delivery UK Office is Home to 75 Full Time Staff

Friday, October 19th, 2012 (2:00 pm) - Score 719

The government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office, which is responsible to distributing £680m to help 90% of people gain access to superfast broadband ISP connections by 2015, apparently has 75 full-time staff working to implement its remit. But are they all needed?

According to PC Pro, the eye-opening figures were first revealed in response to a written parliamentary question. Crucially this raises questions about just what all those staff are actually doing, especially while a number of the related Local Broadband Plans (LBP) are stuck in limbo awaiting EU State Aid approval before they can proceed to deployment.

Much of the responsibility for how the LBP’s are developed and managed also rests with each local authority area and most of the related contracts appear to be going the way of BT; primarily because Fujitsu seems to have given up and small ISPs can’t bid so there’s not a lot of competitive choice. As a result critics will surely be quick to question why BDUK requires 75 staff just to rubber stamp its contracts for BT.

In fairness BDUK has a lot more to juggle than might first appear. The office has to consider legal ramifications, review contracts, check costing and at the same time there are still plans that require final approval (we’re only scratching the surface here). Not to mention that some of the same resources might also end up being used to review allocations of the Urban Broadband Fund (UBF) and similar schemes. Apply this to the whole country and suddenly 75 staff doesn’t seem too unreasonable, especially with BDUK being at full swing over the spring to summer period.

Back in February 2012 it was similarly revealed that the “cumulative value” of BDUK’s contract for legal services (lawyers) was expected to “exceed £1 million by the end of the programmes in 2015“. In fairness lawyers are expensive and if anything £1m seems pretty cheap given the national scale of BDUK’s undertaking. Never the less people, much like eagle eyed accountants, will rightly want to know more about where such resources are actually going.

At the time of writing BDUK didn’t have enough press officers on duty to respond when we requested more details, which suggests that they’ve managed to skimp on at least one area.

UPDATE 6th November 2012

The Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office has given an update to PC Pro, which reveals that 66 staff were working on related projects between July and September 2012 (the loss of 13 is said to be down to “human error“). Apparently they don’t know exactly who is doing what because, “DCMS operates a flexible resourcing system in which individuals frequently move across teams and projects“.

Labour MP Chi Onwurah has also claimed that BDUK suffers a staff turnover rate of 110%. Onwurah added that “it’s industry consensus that alarm bells should be ringing if staff turnover rates reach 25% per year; BDUK is looking at 110% for three quarters.” BDUK has also admitted that “very few of the original staff will have remained in place“.

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3 Responses
  1. Avatar DTMark says:

    Lets just remind ourselves of the BDUK aims:

    BDUK’s goals include facilitating the delivery of universal broadband and stimulating private sector investment to deliver the best super-fast broadband network in Europe by 2015. To achieve these objectives the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have agreed 3 business aims:

    1.Create a level playing field between incumbents and new providers
    2.Open up access to infrastructure to facilitate super-fast broadband in many areas
    3.Facilitate the introduction of super-fast broadband in remote areas at the same time as in more populated areas

    So we have a government quango which spent £3 million on a report, was it… £1m in legal fees, and has 75 employees.

    Which will not only fail to deliver on any of those aims – indeed, will achieve the opposite and do significant long-term damage. And you can go back over a year to find [other] people saying this:

    http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/when-it-meets-politics/2011/06/will-the-bduk-framework-do-sig.html

    Really remarkable that a spend so high has produced something so mediocre. It’s more than just incredible incompetence, it has to be.

    Did I miss anything?

    Perhaps we could put the original three aims above to BDUK and ask when they might commence a project that stands a chance of delivering same?

  2. Avatar Kyle says:

    Make tea – eat biscuits – call BT to tell them how much they’re giving them today – more tea – free lunch on expenses – call BT with more funding – home time.

  3. “Really remarkable that a spend so high has produced something so mediocre”

    Not really, quite normal for UK Government.

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