Sunday, 11 November 2012

Did procurement bring down BBC Director General?

I have been a devotee of Newsnight for many, many years - I would even go so far as to say it is my favourite viewing. So the debacle related to its handing of child abuse scandals is really disappointing - but was this a Supply Risk Management disaster waiting to happen?

Let's rewind. The BBC has been on a cost reduction strategy for some time; outsourcing programmes, contracting with its front-line 'names' as opposed to employing, and now it has all the appearance that it may have outsourced quite a bit of its investigative journalism to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.  It was the BIJ who appear to have had the commission from Newsnight and led most of the investigation into the abuse claim and it was a BIJ journalist who sparked the Twitter flurry which has ultimately led to the resignation, last night, of the BBC's Director General.

Newsnight appear to have outsourced one of its strategic assets: investigative journalism. That may have been fine had they not also failed to quality assure the outputs and manage the contractor's opportunistic pursuit of glory through the posting of 'The Tweet that did it'. While we recognise that the DG appears to have had a remote approach to delegation, when you are managing such a strategic issue as the potential credibility of an innocent, high-profile politician, who must have been in the inner-circle of Conservative politics at the same time as the BBC Trust's Chairman, you are really putting yourself out on a limb.

I really hope Newsnight will not be sacrificed in the witch-hunt, but there is a procurement lesson here: be careful what you outsource/partner, identify and manage the risks, and always remember that a lack of Supply Risk Management can bring down even the top guy!

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