DIUS corporate site: almost £1m for 2 years

The Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (2007-2009) did some great things on the web – and not just from Steph Gray’s social media desk. They were exceptionally quick to get a corporate website up and running: nothing particularly clever, but it was there on the day the department came into being [citation needed]. And when it (eventually) came, their ‘proper’ corporate site was clever, attractive and very well executed.
But at what cost?, LibDem MP Paul Holmes asked. The answer came in Hansard at the end of last week: ‘the Department spent £953,911 on the creation of a new website. This included the design of both an initial website launched shortly after the creation of the Department and a later improved version. This total covers the purchase of hosting and content management system as well as project management and content migration (i.e. staff) costs.’ Yes folks, nine hundred and fifty thousand… and taking the answer at face value, that doesn’t include day-to-day running costs.
(Incidentally, you might want to cross-reference this answer against Sion Simon’s response to Oliver Heald last November: £100k for design, £240k for hosting and content migration, annual maintenance of £85k. None of them small figures by the way, but they still only get us half-way to that £950k total. Hmm.)
Now listen, I’ve worked on the inside, and I know how the costs mount up. By the time you factor everything in – from staff costs to stationery cupboard – you’re left with a surprisingly high figure for ‘what a website costs’. But no matter how pretty your website is, no matter how clever it is, £953,911 over two years is too much… before we even get to the cost of then ditching it, in the wake of a reshuffle. I’m sure there are reasons, and I’m sure there were good people doing their best. But it’s very telling to look back over DIUS written answers, at references to how the website cost was lumped into larger IT outsourcing contracts, and couldn’t be separately costed.

3 thoughts on “DIUS corporate site: almost £1m for 2 years”

  1. Hmmm. Nothing for spec in Sion Simon’s figures, and the Annual Maintenance (85k) looks cheap – that is one and a bit people, and most District Councils have a full time web-bod.
    Do they have 50 people in different areas who contribute and had to be trained for half a day? How much content is there? Does 900k include back-end databases?
    Too little information 🙂
    I once knew of a misunderstanding where one party thought “design” included cleansing, data entry and proofing of 5000 records.

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