BBC starts search for new CTO

The BBC is about to advertise the vacant chief technology officer (CTO) job to replace John Linwood, sacked after the DMI project failure

The BBC is about to advertise for a new chief technology officer (CTO) to replace John Linwood, who was controversially sacked last year.

The new CTO will be responsible for driving the BBC’s technology strategy and key technology projects, and will report directly to the managing director of operations and finance, Anne Bulford as part of her senior leadership team.

The former BBC CTO John Linwood was sacked in July 2013 over the broadcaster’s failed £100m Digital Media Initiative (DMI).

Linwood was initially suspended in May 2013 after the BBC scrapped the DMI project, which was intended to link digital production tools with a central, digital archive for BBC staff to access throughout the production process. 

Linwood’s subsequent departure in July was not revealed until January this year for legal reasons - Linwood is also pursuing his own legal action against his former employer. Peter Coles has since taken on the role of acting CTO in the meantime, and will continue in this position until the new CTO is appointed.

For the past 18 months, the BBC technology team has reported to director of operations Dominic Coles. But in an email to staff, Bulford said she was changing the way technology would report to senior staff in an attempt to “reduce the number of management layers in the organisation.”

The Information and Archives team, which is led by Sarah Hayes, will remain in the Operations Group and will report directly to Coles, who will continue to sponsor the End2End project, managed by Alice Webb, which was set up following the closure of the DMI project.

Bulford said in the email to BBC staff: “I want, however, to take this opportunity to thank Dominic for his sure leadership of the Technology team through the difficult period following the closure of the DMI project, including his work on the re-procurement of the Technology Framework contract (Project Aurora).”

Project Aurora is the new initiative recently announced by the BBC to move away from its single-supplier outsourcing deal with Atos and introduce a new multi-sourced approach to its technology services.

The broadcaster’s existing 10-year, £2bn deal – initially signed with Siemens in 2004, and later transferred to Atos when it acquired Siemens Business Services in 2011 – comes to an end in March 2015.

The Aurora Programme, will see suppliers invited to bid for seven contracts, using a "tower model", whereby similar IT functions are grouped together into individual service deals.

At the time the DMI row was escalating, one of the suggested changes to the way the BBC managed future projects was to change the culture of the organisation by “pushing down accountability” so that everyone is aware of their individual accountability. Additionally, the broadcaster plans to appoint single responsible owners for major projects and have more frequent reports by the project management office.

During a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting in February, Coles said the BBC had “absolutely” learnt its lesson from the DMI project and had plans in place to change the way the broadcaster digitalises its production processes going forward.

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