KPMG: 'Government should have cause to take control of broadband plan if firm fails'

The Government should include a clause in any contract allowing the State to take control of the national broadband plan if the firm involved fails to meet its obligations under the 25-year deal.

KPMG issued the stark advice in a 194-page independent report to officials in December, saying the clause is needed to stave off any potential attempts to change the contract at a later date.

In a detailed document released alongside two dozen other files on Wednesday, the global auditor firm said the broadband plan will only work if the contract is watched closely by officials to ensure it is acted on.

While saying the service could be implemented, the independent auditors said if the David McCourt-led consortium is "unable or unwilling" to live up to its side of the deal the Government should be able to step in and take the project into public control.

"If implemented and monitored appropriately, the contract should provide Government with mechanisms to exercise oversight over the deployment and long-term operation of the network.

The contract should also provide a mechanism for Government to take ownership of the network if at any time the company is unable or unwilling to deliver the services in accordance with the contract over the next 25 years.

"However, a contract is only effective if properly implemented by both parties... The contract will only be effective if an appropriately skilled and resourced multi-disciplinary Government team is put in place to appropriately implement the contract.

"This is now a critical factor for the successful delivery of the national broadband plan," the report read.

In separate advice in the same document, KPMG also said that given the fact the contract is focused on providing high-speed broadband to 536,000 homes nationwide, it is realistic that the company and the Government's cost predictions may differ.

KPMG said the situation reflects the "large scale and high risk profile of the project". However, the group said it is "not possible" at this stage to know which figures are correct and that "only the passage of time" will clarify the matter.

"It is not possible to say with certainty which set of assumptions is correct and only the passage of time will allow that assessment to be made," the report read.

Noting issues such as the planned "claw back" of any extra income generated by the broadband plan, the KPMG report said the planned contract offers "protections" for Government.

However, it added: "A contract is only effectively if it is appropriately adhered to and implemented by both parties."

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