Birt-style shake-up for BT

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The Independent Online
BT is to undertake one of the most radical internal shake-ups in its history, with plans to separate its business into as many as 50 trading units - using unpopular reforms implemented at the BBC by its director- general, John Birt, as one of the templates.

Unions fear the internal market programme, which is intended - 12 years after privatisation - to sweep away the last traces of civil service culture, could lead to whole chunks of the company's operations being hived off if they fail to meet exacting performance targets.

Project leader Jeff Richardson said BT hoped to avoid "mistakes" that the BBC had made by introducing the changes gradually.

"This won't be a big bang. The aim is to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary."