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GCHQ Accommodation Procurement: Intelligence and Security Committee Reports

Volume 684: debated on Thursday 19 November 2020

The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) has today laid before Parliament a report of the former Committee on GCHQ accommodation procurement: a case study, examining the procurement process for the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) London headquarters and the decision of the (then) Government in 2016 to approve Nova South as the location.

We welcome the scrutiny that the Committee and the National Audit Office provide in order to ensure that the taxpayer receives the best value for money from investments made by the security and intelligence agencies. The procurement of Nova South as the headquarters of the NCSC was a unique challenge, undertaken within a demanding timeframe and as a result, the Government acknowledge there are lessons that can be learned from the procurement process. We have noted the Committee’s recommendations and will respond to them in full in due course.

The UK has never been better defended from cyber-threats than it is today. The NCSC offers unprecedented analysis, response and reduction techniques to the growing cyber-threat.

The Government accept that this report does not scrutinise the overall success of NCSC. However, as the public-facing part of GCHQ and the UK’s lead technical authority on cyber-security, the NCSC required a workspace which balanced the need for accessibility and operational capability to defend the UK against cyber-threats effectively.

Nova South met all the key criteria required by the Government, including proximity to Whitehall and other stakeholders within the Government secure zone. A further contributing factor to its selection was its availability which allowed the NCSC to be established at pace, within a year, providing a centre at time when there was an urgent need for the Government to increase their defensive cyber capabilities and respond to global cyber incidents like Wannacry.

Nova South has provided a much needed central focus for UK cyber-security since its procurement, hosting a wide range of Government and industry partners as well as contributing to our global commitment to cyber-security and the UK’s ranking as number one by the Global Cybersecurity Index.