BBC buyers criticised by MPs

16 January 2008
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16 January 2008

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has criticised the level of access granted to the National Audit Office (NAO) to investigate BBC procurement.

The comments follow a recent NAO report into purchasing at the broadcaster (News, 3 January).

When senior BBC executives appeared before the MPs last week, PAC member Alan Williams pointed out that the report, although mostly positive, focused only on £531 million of the £1.3 billion BBC spend and neglects all its other strategic relationships.

Williams said: "It's outrageous that full access isn't given to the NAO," adding: "An NAO officer goes into an organisation and identifies areas that need further investigation, but it is [the responsibility of] the BBC to put things forward to the NAO."

Director-General of the BBC, Mark Thompson defended the report, arguing that BBC management never directs the NAO, or vetoes its access to areas of spending. BBC trustee Jeremy Peat claimed: "It was an NAO proposal that it [the £531 million] should be the focus."

The BBC concentrated on the report's findings that it is likely to meet its proposed savings target of £75 million by March, by reducing suppliers and more use of central contracts.

SMjan2008

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