The Home Office provided a positive update to the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), addressing recommendations made in a report earlier this year.
Philip Rutnam, permanent secretary for the Home Office, said the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) remains committed to providing emergency services users the time they need to transition safely to the Emergency Service Network (ESN) and are working on the assumption of a continuing need for a 27-month user transition period once mobilization has been completed.
“The delay in the program has given more time to prepare for transition, and this could ultimately mean the total length of time required for transition could reduce,” said the letter to Meg Hillier with PAC. “However work continues on an integrated program plan to cover both the mobilization and transition periods.”
Rutnam said the Home Office has been engaging with the user community to get its feedback on the updated program plan, transition timelines and regional transition running order. ESMCP recently deployed a team of local implementation leads, funded from departmental budgets, to help users develop their own individual transition readiness requirements and plans.
The current transition timetable includes a contingency of two months within each of the three emergency service regions' budgeted 12-month transition period. Following completion of the current review of transition timing undertaken in conjunction with three emergency service user representatives, the program will re-assess the level of contingency necessary to support the revised plan.
“I would like to reassure you again that there will be no risks taken with public safety, and there will be no gap in the emergency services' communications provision,” Rutnam said.
In August 2016, the Home Office and the other emergency services agreed to a change control note to the Airwave emergency services contracts that makes a provision for extension of the contracts beyond the national shutdown target date of 31 December, 2019.
“Furthermore, the program is separately forecasting what further Airwave extensions might be required to provide for an extended period of transition,” the letter said. “The cost of these extensions will be included within the full business case forecast that guides the departments in forming their future budgets for the program.”
Rutnam said a final transition plan will be in place by December, and the Home Office will provide another update in November.
The full letter is here.
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