The Home Office (the Department) is replacing the radio system used by the police, fire and ambulance services in Great Britain with a system that is not yet in use nationwide anywhere in the world. The Emergency Services Network (ESN) is an ambitious programme to provide a critical national service, using technology that is still being developed, to a challenging timescale set by the Department. While the Department has ensured stability in the senior team managing the project, notably through the Senior Responsible Owner who has been in post since 2011, it looks as if the current target date for delivering ESN will not be met. Emergency services will not use ESN until they are firmly convinced that it works, which may require more testing and assurance work than the current December 2019 delivery date seems to allow for. Despite the prospect of delay the Department has not budgeted for an extended transition period or put in place detailed contingency arrangements to manage this risk. The Department did not manage to maintain competitive pressure in letting either of the two main ESN contracts and when these contracts are recompleted the incumbent suppliers will be in a very strong position.
19 January 2017