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Two incendiary parliamentary hearings this afternoon

February 3, 2014

Two incendiary parliamentary hearings took place this afternoon.

Brian - still portrait - purple tie - UC undertitleBrian Wernham – IT project expert

At 3:15pm the PAC took evidence on the failed BBC Digital Media Initiative project
…and at 4:30pm the Work and Pensions Select Committee grilled Iain Duncan Smith and his Permanent Secretary on the failing Universal Credit project.  Unfortunately the new Universal Credit boss, Howard Shiplee did not attend. At 2pm news broke that Shiplee has been off work sick since Christmas, and MPs were only informed of this as they walked to the meeting. 

Update: I have put links to the videos of the meetings at the end of this blog.

These two dinosaur IT projects have much in common – both over-bloated, over-long, expensive and with no practical output to show for the effort.



The BBC project has ended in acrimony with the sacked IT boss appearing today to explain his point of view – warts and all. And ex-Director General Mark Thompson has flown in from his new job at the New York Times to defend his actions. In addition, the MPs have a 30 page deposition from whistle-blower Bill Garrett – a former BBC IT boss, who in 2012 told BBC Trust Chair Lord Patten privately about problems with DMI.

The Universal Credit project marches on to an uncertain future. Take-on of new claimants will virtually stop in coming months as the creaking v2.0 software being used in the Pathfinder areas has only a limited lifespan. Iain Duncan Smith’s hope is that a Universal Credit v3.0 designed to work on mobile technology will save the day. But today he has to explain how much money was wasted on v1.0, and what the point of v2.0 was.

The common factor between these two projects is hubris and over-confidence in large, big-bang IT systems projects. An Agile approach of incremental development and implementation would have staved off the risks in these projects and avoided a terrible waste of public money.”


BBC Digital Media Initiative IT Project – £126m wasted

Universal Credit IT Project – £500m wasted (and counting)


From → Agile Governance

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