Broadband procurement and delivery models feasibility study / business case
The project issues
The Government’s stated aim to achieve broadband connectivity into schools was facilitated through The Standards Fund part 601b. This provided funding for 2mbps symmetrical (broadband) links to schools and was a distinct funding stream separate, for example, from Funding for Schools Infrastructure (PCs, cabling, ISDN links, LAN etc).
Whilst the overall programme had been successful - most Local Education Authorities (LEAs) had achieved the 20% target of schools with broadband, with the average running at 22%. However, given that LEAs approached the provision of connectivity in a variety of different ways., the DfES was keen to explore whether the procurement and delivery model which had been applied was the most effective, and if not what was.
Specific assignment issues included:
- some Local Authorities (LAs) were aiming to be more holistic (Tameside, Cambridgeshire PFI, Telford) in terms of total Authority connectivity, not just schools. There were questions, for example, as to whether provision of funding via the LA (but still for schools broadband) might be better
- would a national procurement be more appropriate?
- what were the alternatives, their risks, costs and business cases?
The Socitm Consulting solution
Socitm Consulting’s approach brought together our benchmarking and procurement expertise. The assigned consultants conducted a series of activities aimed at addressing the following areas:
- could LEAs provide schools broadband at a lower cost than the consortia by providing it as part of a holistic network? Or otherwise? What might be the cost per school?
- what were LAs doing with schools in this context?
- what was the impact /joining possibilities with other infrastructure funding?
- what corporate /departmental (and therefore education) split applies as regards ICT controls and devolved processes?
- what are the LA strategies relating to council networks?
The benefits to the client
Socitm Consulting’s analysis and research enabled DfES to proceed with an effective development. This was supported by Socitm Consulting’s existing visibility within LAs and LEAs enabling easier access to information. This was a key benefit to the DfES as it is constrained in that it must not overburden LEAs with requests for information. In addition, Socitm Consulting already had some of this information through its ICT performance benchmarking activities. This contributed to the validation of data provided, assessing the present approach and making appropriate recommendations moving forward.
Client organisation: Department for Education & Skills (DfES)
Client contact: Steve Hogger, Commissioning Manager, 020 7273 4771, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lead Consultant: Peter O'Neil
Project no: 4219
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