news The National Broadband Network Company revealed late last week that it would appoint three consulting firms to assist with its Strategic Review process, despite the fact that Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull had stipulated it was his intention that the review be conducted by NBN Co itself.
The Strategic Review is being led by NBN Co’s Board and executive management. Its primary objective is to evaluate both the: Current NBN operational and financial performance; as well as the timing, financials and product offers under alternative models of delivering very fast broadband to homes and businesses across Australia.
Turnbull said in a press conference last month he had made it clear to NBN Co’s staff that he was “not interested in being given information that people may think will conform to my particular political agenda, whatever they may imagine that to be”.
“The goal of the strategic review, as you know, is to ascertain what it will really cost in dollars, what it will really take in years and months, to complete the project on the current specifications. And then, to assess, what options there are to reduce that cost and time, by using different techniques, different technologies,” the Minister added.
“As you know, as everyone knows, we’ve canvassed an example of that in our policy document, but let me say again, as I said to NBN staff today, I am, and the Government is, thoroughly open-minded, we are not dogmatic about technology; technology is not an ideological issue. We are completely agnostic about it. What we want to do is get the best result for taxpayers as soon as possible.”
“It’s intended that the review will be conducted by the company. So it will be owned, if you like, by the board of the NBN Co and owned by the company. But it obviously will have the input of experts and advisers. But it’s not my intention to have a firm of consultants produce a review that is not owned by the people that then have to live with it an execute it.”
However, it appears that, contrary to Turnbull’s statement, NBN Co has brought in significant external resources to conduct the Strategic Review. On Friday, the company issued a statement noting that it had contracted three consulting firms to carry out work on the project
“Deloitte will provide governance and program management office services to ensure the Strategic Review fits within the parameters and tight deadline for submission set by the Government; KordaMentha will contribute to the analysis of the current NBN operational and financial performance; [and] Boston Consulting Group will participate in the review of the timing, financials and product offers under alternative models for delivering very fast broadband,” the company stated. The three consultancies were chosen as part of a select tender process announced on 16 October.
NBN Co noted that the review was being led by the company’s board and executive management, “under the sponsorship of JB Rousselot, the company’s Head of Strategy and Transformation”.
“The company will also mobilise a cross-divisional team of NBN Co employees who will work closely with the external consultants,” the company added. The document will form a key input into the company’s 2014-17 Corporate Plan, which is due to be delivered to the Government in the first half of next year.”
However, Rousselot himself is a newcomer to NBN Co. The executive, who has close personal links to Turnbull, was only appointed to the company this month. Rousselot, a former Telstra executive, is not known to have substantial experience deploying telecommunications network infrastructure (link to paywalled content).
NBN Co’s board is currently led by the company’s executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski, who was appointed early this month. Like Rousselot, Switkowski is a veteran of Telstra, but does not have substantial experience with the deployment of network infrastructure.