A botched BBC IT scheme which ended up costing licence-fee payers £100m will be the subject of a government grilling today as those responsible face questions about the project's failures.
Back in 2008, the BBC launched its Digital Media Initiative (DMI), which was designed to allow staff to develop, create and share video and audio content through a new integrated digital production and archiving system.
The scheme was eventually scrapped last year after what the National Audit Office describes as the corporation being "too optimistic" over its ability to implement it. Siemens initially won the contract but Computacenter and other IT firms specialising in video and audio were also brought in over its lifespan.
By the time it was scrapped last May, the cost to the licence-fee payer stood at £98.4m.
Today, those responsible for the DMI - including former director general Mark Thompson - will give evidence to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which will grill them over the scheme's failures.
Ahead of the meeting, PAC chairman Margaret Hodge MP said lack of accountability was at the heart of the programme's failures.
"This report reads like a catalogue of how not to run a major programme," she said. "I was shocked to learn how poor the BBC's governance arrangements for the DMI were.
"These failures go right to the top. The executive board applied insufficient scrutiny during 2011 and the first half of 2012. The programme was not subject to any audit or assurance reporting between early 2011 until July 2012.
"The BBC Trust had questioned the executive... in September 2011 but then applied limited challenge until July 2012."
When the scheme was first dreamed up in 2007, the BBC thought the scheme would cost £133.6m - £98.4m funded directly by the licence fee - over a 10-year period and 184 staff and contractors were assigned to setting it up.
The National Audit Office,which has looked into the failings of the DMI before, agreed that accountability was at the heart of the failure but said tech confusion made matters worse.
"The BBC was too optimistic about its ability to implement it and achieve the benefits," it said. "Confusion about the content of technology releases and protracted problems with getting the system to work contributed to a growing gap between technology development and what system users expected.
"If the BBC had established better governance and reporting for the DMI, it would likely have recognised the difficulties much earlier."
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