Following the broadband money

Commission won’t vet BDUK’s broadband bung

with 9 comments

The European Commission may have decided not to object to BDUK’s plans to give £530m of taxpayers’ money to BT and Fujitsu Telecom under the BDUK rural broadband procurement framework.

A notice on the EC’s Competition website indicates a decision taken on 28 March “not to raise objections” to “compensation for net costs incurred to keep a non-commercially viable network for the period 2012-15 and the continuation of a working capital facility”.

It adds the public version of the decision will be made available “as soon as it has been cleansed of any confidential information”.

Br0kenTeleph0n3 reported earlier that only BT and Fujitsu remain from the original nine potential suppliers since Cable & Wireless Worldwide pulled out of the running.

BDUK applied in May last year for blanket clearance for BDUK’s contribution to UK local authorities’ broadband procurement contracts under state aid rules. If the competition directorate had denied the request, it would have had to scrutinise at least 45 contracts.

The department of culture, media and sports, BDUK’s parent, published its grants to county authorities in August 2011.

The original intention was to use the money to boost broadband access in the “final third” of the country. Somehow the goal has morphed into “the best broadband in Europe by 2015”. This suggests a wider spending remit than current broadband not spots.

If this is indeed the commission’s decision, only one person recently hired by BDUK will be directly responsible for overseeing how councils spend their grants. That person also has to manage BDUK’s internal budget of £16.5m.


Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2012/04/04 at 22:46

9 Responses

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  1. Chief Executive of BDUK – Robert Sullivan

    Robert has been a Senior Civil Servant for over 10 years. He was previously Director of the Office for Life Sciences in BIS. Before this he was Director Manufacturing, with national policy responsibility for the Manufacturing Advisory Service. As Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Transport he provided policy advice on road and rail infrastructure projects – including road pricing and crossrail. At QinetiQ Plc he led the EU contract research programme across civil aerospace, energy, and communications technology. At the MOD he was responsible for investment appraisal of the fixed wing and C4ISTAR equipment programmes.


    2012/04/04 at 22:55

    • So, he’s never made money, has he? He’s just spent it. Makes him well-qualified for the BDUK job.

      Ian Grant

      2012/04/04 at 23:46

  2. you’ve just described the whole public sector and political class Ian 🙂

    yarwell (@yarwell)

    2012/04/05 at 08:09

  3. Is the Commission decision to do with BDUK?

    It refers to the Postal and Courier sector. Surely it is more likely to do with the actions necessary to repare the ground for the privatisation of Royal Mail.

    Will you be asking whether any of of those in BDUK responsible for budgeting, procurement or performance monitoring has any accountancy qualifications? The Fulton Report (1968) contained strong mateiral on the need to professionalise the Civil Service. I recently saw data which appeared to indicate that today there are fewer professionally qualfied accountants in Whitehall than in 1968!

    £16 million of internal budget (presumably with external consultancy costs added) to allocate £530 million of grants which then has to contracted might seem to be value for money from some-one with a background in defence procurement but to those with a background in the private sector or local government ….

    No wonder there are storms brewing – including rumours of serious interest on the part of mebmers of the Public Accounts Committee, even if the National Audit Office has bigger fish to fry.

    This will run and run – unless, of course, we see BT and Fujitsu roll out world class networks to global inter-operablity standards – to short order – as opposed to merely meeting the terms of a framework that is looking increasingly outdated as technologies move on. Once the Olympics are over BT will have all those apprentices it has been training and Fujitsu has built and operated state of the art networks across much of the globe. But so too have several of those who have pulled out in frustration.

    Philip Virgo

    2012/04/05 at 08:12

  4. the stitch up continues… “The original intention was to use the money to boost broadband access in the “final third” of the country. Somehow the goal has morphed into “the best broadband in Europe by 2015″”

    So the goal will be to spend the money on the major population areas which then counts as covering “99% of the population” , mobile phone coverage style. Job done.

    This BDUK funding effort looks less of a threat to independent “final 3rd” businesses all the time..

    lets get it over with..

    bill lewis

    2012/04/05 at 08:56

  5. […] could have said much more about the reasons for the six month delay before the European Commission swallowed its reservations and passed the Framework as fit for […]

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