Public Accounts Committee

BBC Critical Projects inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Report published 8 July 2016. Government response published 7 November 2016.

Report published

Projects are an important part of achieving the BBC's strategic vision. The BBC has grouped what it considers to be its most strategically important, complex and high risk projects into a portfolio of 'critical projects'. The National Audit Office (NAO) is currently conducting a study which examines the effectiveness of the BBC's arrangements for overseeing these critical projects, including the changes to oversight and reporting that it made following the failure of its Digital Media Initiative (DMI) project.

The Digital Media Initiative

In 2014, the Public Accounts Committee published its 52nd Report on the BBC's Digital Media Initiative. The Digital Media Initiative was a transformation programme that involved developing new technology for BBC staff to create, share and manage video and audio content and programmes from their desktops. The BBC initially contracted Siemens to build the DMI system. However, the contract was terminated by mutual agreement with effect from July 2009 and the BBC brought the DMI in-house in September 2009.

In February 2011, based on a National Audit Office report, the Public Accounts Committee took evidence from the BBC on its progress with the in-house development of the Programme. The PAC report in 2011 reflected the assurances the BBC had given the Committee about it being on track to complete the system in 2011 with no further delays. However, the BBC then failed to complete the DMI Programme and in May 2013 cancelled it at a cost to licence fee payers of £98.4 million.

The Committee of Public Accounts considered that the BBC was far too complacent about the DMI's troubled history and the very high risks involved in taking it in-house. The DMI was 18 months behind schedule when the BBC took it in-house from Siemens. Poor governance meant that these important weaknesses went unchallenged, even when things started to go badly wrong.

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