BBC response to PwC Digital Media Initiative report

Date: 18.12.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.07
Category: Corporate
The BBC has today issued the following response regarding the PwC report into the governance of the now-closed Digital Media Initiative (DMI) project.

Dominic Coles, the BBC's Director of Operations, said:

"While the BBC has a strong history of delivering complex projects such as BBC iPlayer, the digital Olympics or major property moves, we got this one wrong which we regret. We know it is vital to spot problems early, which is why we have overhauled how these projects are run to ensure this doesn't happen again."

Executive response

We welcome this report and accept its findings. As the Director-General explained when he announced his decision to close the project last May, we got DMI wrong. Following the closure of the project, we owe it to licence fee payers to do our utmost to understand what went wrong and how we can ensure we learn all lessons, so that there can be no repeat of a failure of this scale.

The BBC has a strong record of delivering complex technology-enabled transformation projects such as the BBC iPlayer, High Definition on Freeview, the digital Olympics, BBC North, and the migration to New Broadcasting House, which was recently judged as ‘Programme of the Year’ at the Association of Project Management Awards 2013. These are the benchmarks that we aspire to and have proven we can deliver.

Whilst the BBC clearly has a responsibility to keep ambitious technology projects under control, it is also our duty to bring innovation to the market. Of course, such technology projects always carry a risk of failure. Nevertheless, to deliver our strategy and bring value to the digital economy, the BBC will continue to innovate and develop new technologies.

This report focuses on project governance and is one of several reviews into DMI, including a technical review carried out by Accenture which showed that the DMI programme would not deliver to the BBC’s future business needs for digital, tapeless production and informed the closure of the project, and a review by the NAO which will report in the New Year. We will then consider the full set of recommendations and lessons learned.

However, a number of significant measures have already been taken to simplify the organisation and increase personal accountability, following a joint review of governance by the BBC Executive and the BBC Trust:

  • the Executive Board will be strengthened, with an increase in the number of Non-Executive Directors from four to six;
  • the overall number of boards in the BBC will be reduced by more than 60%, to be replaced with appropriately mandated senior individuals who will be empowered to take decisions and be held accountable for those;
  • a more robust reporting pack including an Integrated Assurance and Approvals Plan covering all major projects will be provided monthly to the Board by the BBC’s Project Management Office, enabling it to monitor performance more effectively;
  • a comprehensive update on all major projects will be submitted every quarter to the Trust, ensuring that any issues and risks are properly identified focusing on any issues, with additional reports when appropriate.

In addition, we are in the process of maturing our programme management methodology and will be reviewing it to reflect the recommendations included in the PwC report. We are also reviewing how we can better manage projects as a joined-up strategic portfolio and the capabilities needed to support this. We will continue to implement actions and apply lessons learned from DMI across our project portfolio.

BBC Press Office