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BDUK pays 70 external consultants almost £900 a day

Ed Vaizey has said that the body has also spent nearly £10m on external consultants to date

Broadband Delivery UK, the body armed with governing the competitive process for the UK's superfast broadband rollout, is paying its external consultants some £834 a day, on average.

UK minister for culture, communications and creative industries, Ed Vaizey, has also revealed that between May 2010 and September 2012, BDUK has spent a total of £9.8 million on 70 external consultants.

Vaizey said that "external advisers are employed on a range of terms, including full or part-time employment over a variable number of days per year".

Vaizey said that the administration budget for BDUK in 2010-11 was £1 million and in 2011-12 it was £5.85 million. A DCMS spokesperson has confirmed that the body remained within budget for this period, and said that between April and September this year it had spent £4.15 million on administration costs.

Consequently, this means that BDUK has only spent 10 percent less on consultants than it has on it's administration costs.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport did not hold data on the lowest and highest paid salaries of external consultants.

This news follows the recent revelation by Labour MP Chi Onwurah, a regular contributor to Computerworld UK, that staff turnover at BDUK is looking at 110 percent for the last three quarters.

She said: "It is industry consensus that alarm bells should be ringing if staff turnover rates reach 25 percent per year.

"This chimes with what my contacts in industry and local authorities tell me. They complain of untrained and difficult to get hold of contract employees, constantly changing with little expertise and no long term outlook."

BDUK is responsible for delivering the government's ambition of having the best broadband network in Europe by 2015, where £830 million has been allocated to support the rollout. BDUK distributes the money to local authorities that bid for funding via a framework.

However, BDUK's process has been dealt a number of blows in recent months. A recent Lords Committee report warned against its anti-competitive process after a number of suppliers pulled out of the running and left just BT and Fujitsu bidding for the funds, and to date only BT has won any public money.

Also, the £830 million, although large amounts of it have been allocated and local authorities are ready to begin rolling out networks, is being held up by the European Commission, which is deliberating the implications for state aid.

A DCMS spokesperson said: "BDUK deploys a mixture of full time civil servants and specialists/contractors; the latter provide specialist services and deliver specific pieces of work (such as the BDUK procurement framework) over limited time periods."

"As such, any conclusions drawn from 'staff turnover' figures might be misleading, given that bespoke, time-limited pieces of work have been delivered over the past year by contractors."


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