More Website Rip-Offs

So I wrote about this last month but the BBC have announced the costings for another government website, which cost £105m over three years.

The COI report has some detail – £6.2m on strategy and planning, £4.4m on design and build, £4.7m on hosting and infrastructure, £15.3m on content provision and £4.5m on testing and evaluation. What I can’t work out is why that cost is repeated for three years.

Go and read some of the comments on that post to see the figures people who have built equivalent sites are quoting, the actual costs should be about 1% of the figure we, the tax payer, ended up paying.

Absolutely this is a complete rip-off. I know that part of the problem is the size company the government is forced to deal with (by its own rules) and long tender processes add expense. There’s also the issue that the government has to, and has, it’s own, expensive options in place because it requires security (the branch of the MOD I worked for had to run across a separate WAN created by BT, which cost just just that one department £300k a year), but this is still way over the top. Personally I’d like to see charges brought.

It’s not just services that need looking at though, some of commentators mention that staffing needs reviewing. There’s usually a cap on staff, but not on contractors, which means, you guessed it, lots of overpriced personnel to cover gaps.

To give you an idea, I showed some interest in the web in my time in IT support, so when we restructured the support teams I got asked to head up a new team to look after the internal and external websites. My team consisted of three people and our combined salaries for a month were less that the one contractor we replaced was paid for a week (he was on, I believe £650 a day, project managers were on £1000 a day).

Will it change, unlikely. Just remember when you hear all these headlines about job cuts in the civil service, what is actually happening is that they get rid of staff, but the work still needs to get done, so they hire contractors to fill the gaps who don’t get classed in the head count. So it’ll end up costing us more.

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