Many will have forgotten that the BDUK actually pre-dates the current coalition Government, but as the organisation stands now its task is very different to its original form. With all the current worries that as the months slip by the various local authorities are increasingly at risk of missing the General Election 2015 deadline or in some cases not being capable of delivering anything it is with interest we read a blog article by Chi Onwurah MP on the level of staff turnover within the BDUK.
"Figures I obtained from the DCMS give a rate of attrition at Broadband UK which is truly outstanding. They started 2012 with 49 full time equivalent (FTE) staff and managed to lose half of them in the first quarter, a further 25% of an increased overall staffing in the following quarter and a further 25% between July and September. By September 53 FTE staff, more than the total number they started the year with, had left."Chi Onwurah MP blogging on Computerworld UK
Any one who has ever managed any number of people will know that a high turnover of staff in all but the most mundane jobs results in lower productivity, and when particularly bad lead to a complete collapse in moral and the handful of knowledgeable staff leaving, stalling any work.
In theory once the blanket approval for State Aid has been finally received from the EU a good few projects can race ahead, problems at the BDUK may delay other projects, particularly in areas where there is little local expertise in handling large complex projects. While most councils have expertise in handling their own IT procurement, the nature of the BDUK projects is very different and includes many more unknown factors.
One area of almost universal criticism for the BDUK has been the lack of choice available to the local authorities in terms of potential bidders, with only Fujitsu and BT left standing, and Fujitsu has still not won a contract. While Chi Onwurah suggests part of the problem was splitting the project into 40 smaller segments, which certainly has not helped Fujitsu who claim they need 1 million properties in adjoining authorties for their numbers to stack up, even larger projects were not likely to get other bidders interested. The most vocal group are the small independents left out by clauses such as the need to offer a wholesale service (requirement of EU State Aid) and the annual revenue limits. Though perhaps this revenue limit is in place for a good reason, as you only have to read the fiasco that is Selling, Kent to see how things can go wrong with small operators.
The question we are asking is whether the Labour plan to reach a 2 Mbps basic broadband target in 2012, and then work over a five year period to improving superfast broadband coverage would have produced a significantly better situation than what we have now? Rather than us speculate, we are using this question in this weeks quick poll.