Review to ask whether arrangements for BBC's failed digital scheme were 'fit for purpose'

An independent review into how the BBC wasted almost £100 million on a project designed to digitise its production process will assess whether governance arrangements were “fit for purpose”.

Auditing firm PwC has been hired to conduct the review into the Digital Media Initiative, which was scrapped last month forcing the BBC to write off the £98.4 million spent on the project since 2008.

The City firm has set out seven questions that it will examine before making its report to the BBC Trust. These will include asking what governance arrangements were made for DMI and “were they fit for purpose?”

It will look into what financial and management arrangements were made “to ensure the project delivered the anticipated benefits on time and to budget”.  The review will also ask whether project and risk reporting arrangements were followed and whether the BBC executive followed recommendations from a National Audit Office report on DMI from 2011.

In setting out the scope of the review, the BBC Trust said yesterday that DMI had “failed to deliver what was expected and will be closed before it is completed.”

It is expected that several prominent BBC figures will be asked to present evidence to PwC, including former director general Mark Thompson and former chief operating officer Caroline Thomson.

Thompson has also been recalled to present evidence to the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee (PAC) next month after it accused him of giving misleading answers at a previous session in 2011.

On Monday, PAC chair Margaret Hodge said that Thompson’s assertion that DMI was being used on some programming “just wasn’t true”.

During Monday’s evidence session, BBC trustee Anthony Fry told MPs:” From a personal point of view, this is the most seriously embarrassing thing I have ever see.” He added that there had been at the time “a feeling… that actually the BBC could walk on water.”

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