The UK Government failed to promote competition in the roll-out of its Rural Broadband Programme, according to a new report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The Rural Broadband Programme, part of the Department for Culture Media and Sport's (DCMS) Broadband Delivery UK scheme, is aimed at making high-speed broadband available in the UK's rural communities.
The report follows on from a number of recommendations made to the government by the PAC in September and suggests that a lack of competiton in the procurement process put BT in an unfairly strong position and hindered the ability to ensure value for money.
It also argues that there is still not enough good information published about planned rural broadband coverage and speed and that DMCS failed to act on recommendation to ensure high enough levels of cost transparency.
"Despite our warnings last September, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has allowed poor cost transparency and the lack of detailed broadband rollout plans to create conditions whereby alternative suppliers may be crowded out," said the Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts.
The PAC has made a number of recommendations to the DCMS with a view to rectifying the situation
It proposes that the department should work urgently with all local authorities to publish detailed mapping of their implementation plans, enabling searches down to full (7-digit) postcode level, including broadband speeds where possible.
It also recommends that all deployment costs should be reviewed to inform any future deployments and that opportunities to promote competition and value for money should be identified.
Hodge warned, "If we don't hear that the Department is making significant progress on our recommendations we will require a further hearing to find out why it is not improving its approach to protecting public funds."
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