The National Audit Office (NAO) this week released a report on the BBC’s management of three estate projects. The redevelopment of Broadcasting House performed particularly badly and Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said:
All of these recommendations seem like perfect common sense. But when your project is backed to the hilt by the money of licence fee payers it’s easy to make investment decisions that are not ‘based on the full assessment of the scope and cost of the project’. And it costs money, of course: Already £55 million over budget, delays meant that the Broadcasting House project saw another £52 million added to make a sizeable bill of £1.05 billion. This kind of overrun is inevitable if, as the NAO say:
There was a distinct lack of direction and leadership too:
Unfortunately this comes as no real surprise. Public sector capital projects are awash with delays, overruns and abject planning. We have examined this in detail in two reports: Beyond the Dome and more recently Out of Control. Project overruns have cost every household in the UK £750 so it’s vital that projects that rely on taxpayers’ money are run competently and efficiently. Some of the errors that litter the reports of the NAO and the Public Accounts Committee seem so basic that they are infuriating. But then again, it’s easy to be careless with other people’s money.