News

BDUK seeks new CEO

Jennifer Scott

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is hunting for a new chief executive.

Based within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), BDUK runs the rural broadband programme, which seeks to bring superfast broadband – up to 24Mbps by the government’s definition – to 95% of the UK by 2017.

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It is also responsible for the ongoing mobile infrastructure project to serve so-called "not-spot" areas with coverage, as well as the urban broadband fund, which aims to create 22 "super-connected" cities across the UK.

The position of CEO is currently held by Dr Robert Sullivan, a civil service veteran who has held a number of roles across Whitehall in his 10 years, including heading up the office for life sciences within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

However, as CEO of the rural broadband project, he has missed select committee hearings and kept his head down when controversies have arisen – such as criticisms around the competitive process for winning BDUK contracts and concerns over the lack of data published to show where the roll-outs are set to take place.   

We contacted DCMS to find out why and when Sullivan is leaving, but it had not returned our request at the time of publication.

The job description calls for someone able to provide “strong organisational leadership, build high performing teams and deliver complex projects successfully.” More specifically it asks for someone who can “manage budgets and give taxpayers value for money, drawing on [their] commitment to public accountability.”

However, despite the technical nature of the projects run by BDUK, it added: “Previous experience of infrastructure projects or in the telecommunication sector would be helpful, but is by no means essential.”

The job advert concludes: “A strategic thinker, you’ll be influential and articulate – able to command the confidence of ministers, engage with local government, negotiate with commercial partners and represent BDUK effectively, especially with the media.”

Click here to read our ongoing coverage of BDUK and where broadband will be rolling out across the UK,

UPDATE: A spokesman from DCMS didn't tell us specifically why Sullivan was not up to the job, but he did send us a statement.

“As announced in the spending review, the organisational structure of BDUK is being strengthened to ensure it has the operating freedom and capabilities to deliver a remit which has expanded greatly since it was set up," he said.  

“This is in line with Lord Deighton’s review of Government infrastructure programmes, which concluded that such projects should be undertaken by specialist delivery units with commercial expertise.

“As part of this we are running an open competition for a newly framed Chief Executive role to lead delivery of BDUK’s programmes at a significantly increased level of responsibility and accountability than under the present structure.”


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