DCMS doesn’t know who’s working on broadband rollout

The Department of Culture Media and Sport doesn’t know how many people are working for the body that’s supposed to be overseeing hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of broadband projects in the UK.

DCMS doesn't know who's working on broadband rollout

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is responsible for allocating £530 million of public money for regional broadband projects and ensuring that all homes have access to a connection of at least 2Mbits/sec.

Its slow progress has been well documented at PC Pro, and with procurement finally underway in some projects we recently questioned how 75 BDUK staff were finding ways to occupy themselves.

The figure of 75 full-time equivalent staffers working on the project has since been re-assessed, with corrected figures released in a written response from under secretary of state, Ed Vaizey, showing there are only 62 people working on the project between July and September this year.

It is industry consensus that alarm bells should be ringing if staff turnover rates reach 25% per year; BDUK is looking at 110% for three quarters

Losing 13 people overnight – a “human error”, according to the DCMS – might seem like an extreme head-counting bungle, but the response from Vaizey also highlights what critics have called the “chaotic” nature of the DCMS’s broadband plans.

“The databases do not capture on which team individuals are allocated—partly because DCMS operates a flexible resourcing system in which individuals frequently move across teams and projects,” the response reads.

“Additionally, the HR organogram system only holds details of civil service employees allocated to projects, and therefore, cannot provide accurate data on staffing in BDUK, which includes contractors and interim managers. The correct information in the revised answer has been provided directly by BDUK.”


According to one Labour MP, at least part of the head-counting problem is that staff are moving between positions so regularly that it’s impossible to keep track of what they’re doing.

Writing in ComputerWorldUK, MP Chi Onwurah claims staff turnover at the organisation is at 110%, a level that makes any co-ordinated work extremely difficult.

DCMS figures showed that “while overall number of staff employed by BDUK doubled in 2012, very few of the original staff will have remained in place,” Onwurah said.

“It is industry consensus that alarm bells should be ringing if staff turnover rates reach 25% per year; BDUK is looking at 110% for three quarters,” the MP said.

“The UK’s digital infrastructure is a generational investment. BDUK needs a long-term vision of its role. And for that, it needs to learn to keep its staff.”

According to Onwurah, the price of not doing so is that regional councils find it impossible to track down BDUK staff to assist with their procurement projects, and that when they do find the right team member new staff are often untrained.

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