2018 Report details for project: Echo 2 Programme

Project name: Echo 2 Programme - there are 2 reports for this project: 2018, 2019
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Organisation: FCO (D13) - see all reports for this organisation
Report year: 2018 (data is from Sept 2017)
Category: ICT - see all reports for this category
Description: Echo 2 Programme is a telecommunications infrastructure programme which will procure Connectivity plus Voice and Video services for the British Council, DFID, and FCO (hereafter referred to collectively as 'the partners'), spanning over 550 offices in over 170 countries. The current contract for these services is held by Vodafone and is due to expire for DFID and FCO in March 2018, and March 2019 for the British Council. Expiration of existing contracts for each partner organisation makes the procurements obligatory - retendering allows partners to harness new technology and thereby yield higher performance networks at lower costs The internal IT strategies of each partner organisation require more consistent and higher performing networks to enable transformation. There is also a cross-department 1HMG insistence to reduce operating costs, have better control, transparency, and assurance with regards to ongoing value for money. There is also a need for flexibility to change services in line with changing business practises, which the current contract does not permit. Key benefits include reducing ICT costs via a combined partner purchase power approach, providing Official commodity services and flexibility by disaggregation of service contracts, adopting new technologies and contributing significantly to the One HMG overseas initiative (involving progress towards Co-location, regionalisation, consolidation, collaboration and harmonisation) as well as partner sustainability targets.
DCA (RAG): Amber/Red
DCA text: The original OBC for the ECHO2 Programme was approved on 17th January 2017 by HM Treasury following earlier departmental approvals. Since the OBC was approved there have been a number of changes in approach. Whilst these are not substantive, the programme undertook an Accounting Officer to be satisfied that the Echo2 programme is within the approved OBC scope, and continuing to meet the four accounting officer standards of regularity, propriety, value for money and feasibility. The Accounting Officer Assessment was approved in November 2017. This is a complex multi-faceted governance arrangement due to the cross-government joint-partnership aspect of the programme. Governance structures were reviewed by the IPA in June 2017 and a revised structure was signed off by the Programme Board and Steering Group in July 2017. Due to the joint-partnership nature of this programme, the stakeholder community is also quite complex - however, the environment is stable in particular since the revised governance was agreed in July 2017. Stakeholder engagement is generally good with a number of stakeholder groups including engagement at a senior executive level via the Steering Group. Whilst Echo2 will operate in a complex international delivery environment, the programme will conduct proofs of concept and roll-out on an incremental basis. This project is to replace the underlying Voice and Video and Connectivity infrastructure for DfID, FCO and British Council. This will enable each partner to harness new and improved technologies, underpinning technical transformation strategies. This is not a departmental policy initiative for any of the key partners and therefore the risk of political impact is low. The programme anticipates, from market engagement exercise, that there will be reductions in like for like service costs. Such reductions are likely to be offset by greatly increasing bandwidth requirements over the lifetime of the new contract. As we progress, the relevant FBCs will require HMT approval to test the VFM criteria. A lack of permanent civil servant resources was particular concern raised by the IPA in July 2017. Since then a civil servant (currently MPLA) has filled the Programme Director position and more interim resources have been recruited to fill the resource gaps. The programme has defined each of the roles and regularly assesses the viability for in-sourcing dependant on the longevity of the role both to deliver the programme and also into specific BAU roles to ensure continuity. Programme timelines remain challenging; two of the partners will have commenced their contract exit period before the new procurements have completed; whilst there is a 2.5 year contract run off period, experience from across Government suggests that Exit/Transition very often takes longer than originally envisaged.
Start date: 2015-09-01
End date: 2020-03-31
Schedule text: Following an IPA assessment, it was deemed prudent to re-evaluate the programme plan and procurement approach. As a result of this, there is now a revised timeline and financial forecast. The timelines and finances are in the process of being formally re-baselined. The Programme is in the Project Delivery stage and both procurements have now commenced. The re-assessment of the OBC has completed and an Accounting Officer Assessment has taken place which has approved that the Echo2 Programme remains within its approved scope. The assessment also ensured that the programme is achieving Accounting Officer standards of regularity, propriety, value for money and feasibility. The analysis has largely verified what was proposed in the original OBC with some minor improvements. Both procurements (Voice & Video / Connectivity) are now in progress. The Voice & Video ITT was issued on the 18th December 2018 and the Connectivity Selection Questionnaire was published on 08th December 2018. The Connectivity ITT is on-track to be published on 23rd February 2018. The Voice & Video ITT will close on 23rd February 2018. Negotiations with Vodafone, to ensure satisfactory continuity of service, are reaching a conclusion. Previous concerns regarding the dependencies between the Vodafone negotiations and the re-procurements have been resolved. Programme timescales also remain challenging; the primary risks are; 1. Two of the partners will have commenced their contract exit period before the new procurements have completed. 2. Whilst there is a 2.5 year contract run off period, experience from across Government suggests that Exit/Transition very often takes longer than originally envisaged. Strategic Risks have also been signed-off by the Echo2 Steering Group and are being continuously managed Until such time as the procurements has progressed further and transition planning matured it is felt prudent to keep the RAG Rating as Amber.
Baseline: £2.33m
Forecast: £2.40m
Variance: 3.00%
Variance text: Budget variance less than 5%
Whole Life Cost: £171.40m
WLCost text: There is no change in forecasted whole-life costs. Once the procurements are completed the programme will have a revised view on whole-life costs.
Sourcefile: IPA_2018.csv

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