Home Office seeks £140k deployment director for delayed Emergency Services Network rollout

Late and over-budget programme aims to equip 300,000 frontline staff with 4G communications technology
Photo: Police_Mad_Liam/Flikr/CC BY 2.0

By Jim Dunton

25 Apr 2022

The Home Office has brought in headhunters to help it find a deployment director for its delay-hit Emergency Services Network programme to provide mobile broadband, voice and data communications services to the police, fire and ambulance services.

It is offering up to £140,000 a year for the SCS 2 role – which will entail leading a team of up to 100 civil servants, delivery partners and independent contractors tasked with delivering the system across England, Scotland and Wales.

The salary package is the same level as that offered for a senior responsible owner for the project in a previous recruitment campaign in 2020.

ESN is intended to replace the existing Airwave system used by police, fire and ambulance services and the programme to deliver it commenced in 2011. The Home Office originally expected the system to begin rollout in 2017 and replace Airwave completely by the end of 2019.

A subsequent programme reset targeted introduction by the end of 2022, which public spending watchdog the National Audit Office questioned the feasibility of as far back as 2019. By that point, the cost of the programme was projected to be £9.3bn – a £3.1bn increase on earlier projections. Later in the year the implementation date was pushed back to 2024.

Members of parliament’s Public Accounts Committee last year cited the ESN programme as part of the Home Office’s “miserable” record in digital services. They said each year of delay to the programme came at a cost of £650m to the public purse. The figure includes the £450m annual cost of continuing to use Airwave, programme costs and delayed benefits.

The recruitment campaign for the ESN deployment director says the successful candidate will be responsible for ensuring the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme’s plans for enabling deployment and mass transition are “fit for purpose” and supported by the “user community”.

Around 300,000 people are expected to need access to the 4G system, which is being delivered by EE and Motorola. The system will also need to be installed across more than 100 control rooms, 45,000 vehicles and 66 aircraft.

Among the tasks facing the deployment director are “to own and govern the strategic approach and plan for the deployment of the ESN solution to users” and “manage the strategic stakeholder engagement associated with deployment on behalf of the programme”.

The advertisement says the director’s budget for the project will run into “several hundred million pounds”.

It adds: “You will oversee and assure the successful delivery of suppliers contracted obligations; ensure that the programme delivers its deployment requirements in a timely manner to enable users readiness to transition according to the agreed timeframes.

“You will have excellent stakeholder engagement skills and will be adept in building relationships and influencing others. You will have experience in managing and integrating across a number of delivery areas to achieve effective and efficient deployment.”

The Home Office said the successful applicant for the role could be based in London or Bristol.

Applications 16 May. The consultancy Global Resourcing is handling the recruitment process.

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