The Latest report compiled by The Committee of Public Accounts criticises the BBC’s Digital Media Initiative (DMI) after the £100 million investment funded by Licence payers has provided virtually nothing in return.
Margaret Hodge, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, was speaking as the Committee published its 52nd Report (see below for link to full report) which, on the basis of evidence from the BBC and the BBC Trust, examined the BBC’s Digital Media Initiative.
Expert Witnesses called on to contribute opinions to the report were: John Linwood, former Chief Technology Officer of the BBC, Mark Thompson, former Director-General, BBC, Caroline Thomson, former Chief Operating Officer, BBC, Zarin Patel, former Chief Financial Officer, BBC, Anthony Fry, former BBC Trustee and Chair of the Trust Finance Committee, and Dominic Coles, current Director of Operations, BBC .
Speaking on behalf of of the Committee of Public Accounts, The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP said:
"The BBC’s Digital Media Initiative was a complete failure. Licence fee payers paid nearly £100 million for this supposedly essential system but got virtually nothing in return.
The main output from the DMI is an archive catalogue and ordering system that is slower and more cumbersome than the 40 year-old system it was designed to replace. It has only 163 regular users and a running cost of £3 million a year, compared to £780,000 a year for the old system.
When my Committee examined the DMI’s progress in February 2011, the BBC told us that the DMI was “an absolutely essential have to have” and that a lot of the BBC’s future was tied up in the successful delivery of the DMI.
The BBC also told us that it was using the DMI to make many programmes and was on track to complete the system in 2011 with no further delays. This turned out not to be the case. In reality the BBC only ever used the DMI to make one programme, called ‘Bang Goes the Theory’.
The BBC was far too complacent about the high risks involved in taking it in-house. No single individual had overall responsibility or accountability for delivering the DMI and achieving the benefits, or took ownership of problems when they arose.
Lack of clearly defined responsibility and accountability meant the Corporation failed to respond to warning signals that the programme was in trouble.
The BBC Trust demonstrated similar complacency in its poor oversight of the Executive’s implementation of the DMI.
Both the BBC Executive and the Trust need to overhaul their approach to managing and implementing major projects so that they properly safeguard licence fee payers’ money.
It is not clear why the BBC failed to share important evidence, a 2010 report from Accenture about the DMI, with my Committee or the National Audit Office when it reported on the DMI’s progress in January 2011, which contributed to our false impression of the progress by DMI. My Committee expects the BBC to be completely transparent in its dealings with us and the NAO and tell us of any potentially significant evidence or facts in a timely way."
For Conclusions and recommendations of the report and to read the report in full – see below link.
Jemima Constantine – Expert Witness Today
Link to: Public Accounts Committee, 52nd Report on the BBC's Digital Media Initiative.