PAC Claims BBC Digital Media Initiative “Complete Failure”

Apr 17, 2014

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has branded the BBC’s Digital Media Initiative (DMI) “a complete failure,” citing poor management and wasted money.

The £94.8m project was meant to provide the BBC with an entirely digital platform for programming and archiving, but ultimately failed.

“Licence payers paid nearly £100m for this supposedly essential system but got virtually nothing in return,” claimed Margaret Hodge, PAC chair.

She went on to explain that the DMI has only 163 regular users with a running cost of £3m a year, in comparison with the former system that only cost £780,000 annually.

This led Hodge to describe the system as “slower and more cumbersome than the 40-year-old system it was it was designed to replace.

“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 the problems when they arose,” Hodge continued.

The MP also criticised the organisation for failing to act when it became clear the project was in trouble, as well condemning the way the project was managed.

“The BBC Trust demonstrated similar complacency in its poor oversight of the Executive’s implementation of the DMI,” she said.

“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 payer’s money,” Hodge continued.

PAC Makes Recommendations For BBC Going Forward

In line with its report, PAC published a number of recommendations for the BBC going forward, including governance and support arrangement that match the scale of a project and the use of clear milestones to accurately record progress.

“Projects like the DMI need to be led by an experienced senior responsible owner who has the skills, authority and determination to achieve transformational change, who sees the project through to the successful implementation,” said the Committee.

It also added that rigorous and timely scrutiny should be applied to the BBC’s projects to limit potential and losses and report back to PAC on which of the original DMI requirements are still essential.

Further DMI Controversy

In January, former BBC CTO John Linwood was sacked for his involvement with the DMI project, following a suspension from the corporation in May 2013.

Linwood however claimed he alone was not responsible for the failure the initiative and is currently taking legal action over his dismissal.




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