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back to article MPs rap BBC over Siemens deal

The Public Accounts Committee said the BBC failed to ensure it got best value when it outsourced its IT department to Siemens. The ten-year deal saw 1,440 Beeb staffers move across to Siemens. But public spending watchdog the PAC said BBC executives misled the board of governors about possible savings while trying to convince …

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Anonymous Coward

And the PAC are surprised?

In one fell swoop, the BBC gave up seventy years of good will in its staff. I and my colleagues were transferred against our wishes to a company the selection of which we had no control over.

The BBC was working so hard on its 'one BBC' internal viewpoint that it completely failed to notice that its project management and IT departments were no longer part of the BBC... and then it wonders why, whenever a specification or project requirement is changed, or an unusual IT requirement arises, it gets a change control request instead of it just happening.[1]

We'd all *like* to do the things we did when we were part of the BBC, but both our new lords and masters and the BBC insist that we do things the way we now do. So it costs more and comes in late - and they have the temerity even to raise an eyebrow. Pah!

[1] er, that would be because we follow the project control mechanisms insisted on by the BBC...

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Anonymous Coward

Accountability

"BBC executives misled the board of governors" - surely there is an audit trail and these executives can be fired... ? OK, so the senior execs did not take a bonus this year, but misleading the board should have serious consequences...

What is it with government versus Commercial/corporate contract negotiations - the private sector hire top negotiators and the BBC and government are muppets (look at the contracts negotiated with Doctors - more money, less hours, no compulsory out-of hours work)... when will governments learn to get in the professionals for these negotiations ?

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Anonymous Coward

What of the deal itself?

One problem from two different views...

The team selling BBCT didn't know what they were selling - they didn't do their homework properly, so the market testing was basically wrong. Therefore, Siemens didn't know what it was buying either.

Their preconceptions appear to have been that the BBC is jut a TV company and that Siemens thought they were buying another NS&I or UKPPO operation run by monkeys. Both parties thought it was just an ordinary IT outsource job

What they got was an operation far more professional that the outfit they were being grafted into. (average of 13years service over 1440 staff! How's that in man-years experience!) A large part of the BBC's broadcast communications system (non-IT based!!) got sold along with the IT operation.

The future?

The current senior management within the BBC are the types that believe that broadcasting has nothing to do with what is commonly known as "craft skills", and that these minor inconvieniences can be bought in. They can, but the product by definition isn't as good - there is no pride in being "part of the BBC" which used to be a very big incentive to do the job to the best!

They have sold half of the family jewels already, getting rid of Scenic Operations, the other craft areas and most recently BBC Technology. This lost them a large part of the "non-editorial" and "non-managerial" services that made the BBC what it was, they're about to sell the rest of it with BBC Resources.

The "poor" relation.

Radio counts for little in their eyes - it's minor inconvenience they can put up with until they can find a way of getting rid of it. The BBC will no longer be the world renowned broadcaster it used to be, it is about to end up as just another TV company, purely because of someone's misguided belief in the myth of outsourcing.

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The problem with the BBC is ...

.... The license fee.

They do not have to do anything to get their money. It is just extorted by a bunch of thugs threatening little old ladies (amongst others), exceeding their legal powers (demanding entry to homes to perform an illegal search) and inundating people with mail. Guilt is assumed if you do not have a TV license. I dont have a TV license, I dont have a TV. I dont really care about the BBC, they could cease to exist now and I would not notice their passing.

If the BBC had to actually EARN its money, perhaps they would take a bit more care of it, instead of letting inept management negotiate contracts that they know little about. Outsourcing companies do little more than cover their costs with the headline contract figure. For them to make a return to their shareholders they look for additional work. With IT, there is generally always something extra to be had, which are called (by the BBC and government) cost overruns. They arent, they are legitimate charges for additional work.

The solution to the BBC malaise, sell them off. Turn them into a public company and get them and their stormtroopers off everybody's backs. Perhaps some fiscal prudence would ensue, or perhaps they will disappear altogether.

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Anonymous Coward

Selling the dream.

Well here's a surprise: outsourcing has failed! It was seen in advance and they were warned, everyone outside management knows that outsourcing is a bad thing, not because it takes away peoples jobs, but because it takes people away from caring about the company they work for.

I got out because Siemens didn't have the knowledge or the guts to do serious business in my market sector. Now things are heading down hill rapidly and very soon they will get much worse with industrial action on the cards. I had hoped Siemens would want to explore this new market they had entered, a very senior member of Siemens said he was impressed at the broadcast side's profitability. But they have neglected what they bought in favour of asset stripping and policy.

The BBC is a precious gem for the UK, and it needs to get back on track towards public value instead of selling off assets to make it look good. Selling BBC Resources will be a nail in the already closed casket which will prevent them from avoiding that final journey.

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Anonymous Coward

The problem with the BBC is...

That it is *unique* in broadcasting.

*Every* other broadcaster is in the business of delivering viewers to advertisers; the BBC is in the business of delivering programmes to viewers:

(a) sustaining citizenship and civil society;

(b) promoting education and learning;

(c) stimulating creativity and cultural excellence;

(d) representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities;

(e) bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK; [1]

Yet every damned director general in the last twenty years has treated it as a commercial profit making entity. It's *not* and it's time the BBC had some management that realised this. Instead it collects its directors from commercial television and wonders why it's turning into a playout centre rather than a centre capable of creating excellent programmes. I fear now though that the rot is too deep.

[1]http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/regulatory_framework/charter_agreement/royalchartersealed_sept06.txt

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