There’s been a sudden flurry of Parliamentary Questions (PQs) landing on the Foreign Office‘s doorstep in the last couple of months, on the subject of their departmental website. When it launched in late March, I noted that the purchase of the Morello content management system alone had cost them £1.47m, to some incredulity from commenters. I now learn that figure barely scratched the surface.
The total initial cost, first mentioned in a Meg Munn written answer in January 2008 and confirmed by Jim Murphy in response to a round-robin PQ in April was (brace yourself) £9.7 million. ‘The project is on target to cost £19.2 million over five years. This includes running costs, for example hosting and support, and some staff salaries.’
This understandably attracted front-bench attention, and was followed up by William Hague. A clutch of PQs in mid-May brought a breakdown of the £9.2m spend to date:
- consultancy (procurement, legal and business change advice): £1.631 million;
- project management and support: £1.065 million;
- software, development and implementation (including design and roll-out): £6.115 million; and
- other (including training costs): £0.389 million.
Granted, it’s a big endeavour – providing a single platform for all embassies (etc) to host their websites, in all sorts of languages. And some of the content has been nothing short of sensational – I’m thinking especially of the blogging from Zimbabwe just now. But those numbers seem sky high.
And yet they aren’t the worst. As I’ve blogged previously, I know of one site with an eight-figure budget… which still isn’t live.