BBC turns on industry in wake of NAO criticism

8 March 2010

The BBC’s head of property launched an attack on the construction industry in response to a stinging National Audit Office report on three of the broadcaster’s projects.

Building reported that Chris Kane, who as head of BBC Workplace is responsible for the BBC’s property portfolio, said the poor standard of firms in the sector prevented the BBC from being a better client. Kane claimed he was “on a hiding to nothing” when working with the UK construction industry.

He launched his attack after the NAO criticised the BBC for being a poor client and failing to get value for money on the Broadcasting House refurbishment in London, the Pacific Quay project in Glasgow and MediaCityUK in Salford. All three schemes were built by Bovis Lend Lease.

Kane said: “Our ambition is to build on our capabilities as an intelligent client. That is really difficult in the context of working with the British construction industry, which is fundamentally weighted against the end-user. It’s very costly and expensive to do property projects here.”

He went on to criticise firms for “wasting resources and duplicating effort” and said “we need to simplify our entire procurement process”.

The NAO said the BBC had failed to outline the benefits of any of the projects at the outset or “demonstrate value for money from the £2bn it has committed to the three projects”.

London's Broadcasting House is more than four years behind schedule, and £55m over its £991m budget. The £188m Glasgow project was completed £62m over budget in 2007. MediaCity was built on time and £76m under budget.

But Building Design described the NAO report as “unflinching in exposing the BBC’s failings as a client”. The architects' magazine quotes a section of the report which says: “At the beginning of the Broadcasting House project the BBC did not have the right mix of experience and expertise to see the project through to a successful conclusion. The BBC’s internal auditors reported that the ‘lack of relevant expertise on or in assisting the project team was without precedent’, and that ‘the project director… did not have experience of such a large-scale transformational project’.

Leave a comment