Entertainment & Arts

BBC 'not effective' in running failed £100m IT scheme

BBC Broadcasting House
Image caption The DMI was designed to do away with tapes and digitise the BBC's archives

The governance of a BBC IT project that was scrapped at a cost of £100 million was "not effective" in dealing with its complexity, a review has found.

The Digital Media Initiative (DMI), the report continued, "lacked an executive steering board" to assess its progress.

The Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC) study cited a "lack of clear and transparent reporting" that might have led to the project being scrapped earlier.

The BBC Trust, which commissioned the report, has welcomed its findings.

"PwC has concluded that weaknesses in project management and reporting and a lack of focus on business change... meant that it took the BBC too long to realise that the project was unlikely to deliver its objectives," it said in a statement.

The 58-page report, it added, would "help to ensure that there will be no repeat of a failure on the scale of DMI".

Dominic Coles, the BBC's director of operations, also welcomed the report, admitting the corporation had "got this one wrong".

"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," he said.

The PwC report, said the functions of an executive steering board (ECB) were partly taken on by the director general's finance committee.

The committee, it said, lacked the technical knowledge "to challenge progress on DMI from a technology perspective" - knowledge "which could have provided a broader, more robust oversight" of the initiative.

The DMI project was intended to transform the way TV and radio producers used and shared video and audio material.

It was supposed to eradicate the use of video tapes and digitise the BBC's archives, making them more readily available within the organisation.

The contract was awarded to technology company Siemens in 2008 but its development was taken over by the BBC two years later.

The project was abandoned in May 2013, with the BBC's new director general Tony Hall saying it had "wasted a huge amount of licence fee payers' money".

The PwC report did not investigate why the DMI technology did not deliver or the specific decision to write off DMI assets at a total cost to the BBC of £98.4m.

Its publication comes in the wake of criticisms of the BBC's governance by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) over pay-offs made to outgoing executives.

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