Birmingham's new website: how late? how much?

I don’t usually cover local government issues here – I leave that to other people. But I’ll make an exception for the news that Birmingham City Council is poised to launch a new website.
It was originally scheduled to launch in March 2006, at a cost of £580,000. It is now set to launch in August 2009 – so a mere three and a half years late?! – at a cost of, wait for it… £2.8 million.
The truth came out in an FOI request lodged by Heather Brooke, the ‘unsung hero‘ of the MPs’ expenses row, using MySociety’s WhatDoTheyKnow website. (And if you’re ever asking for similar information, you could do worse than copy and paste her letter to Birmingham.) The council’s reply, embedded below, reveals that the original £580k project was intended to last 7 months; its scope was then formally ‘modified’, moving the date back by two and a half years (!). Subsequent revisions and delays bring us to August 2009.
And here, this’ll make you laugh. Even after all that time, even after all that money, the Birmingham Post reported last month that the latest delay was because ‘officials discovered the software did not recognise pound or euro signs, apostrophes and quotation marks’.
For the sake of the good people of Birmingham, and I speak as a former resident… I sincerely hope it proves to have been worth the wait. And the money.

7 thoughts on “Birmingham's new website: how late? how much?”

  1. interesting .. whats the main cause of the cost and the delay? ie seems so big that there must be more to it .. or am I missing something? headlines often hide the real story .. kind rgds Ajit

  2. Allow me to point out that Heather was working on that investigation as part of Help Me – and that Josh Hart was the guy who started it. The whole investigation including Heather’s contributions and a ‘Deep Throat’ can be found at (invite only at the moment for full detail)

  3. Jeez! It isn’t hard to produce a website. Classic govt overspend. And I love that it didn’t recognise apostrophes…

  4. Wow, this whole thing started in 2005? That’s the same time I started learning HTML. Between 2005 and 2009 I’ve expanded my l33t skillz in HTML, CSS, PHP, basic Javascript, and I consider myself ~very proficient with WordPress and ~quite proficient with Drupal, and I have experience using other content management systems too. I’ve built countless websites both on my own and for the company I work for, and oh yeah, I went from n00b to fully fledged web developer.
    And this ONE website still isn’t finished? It makes me worry for humanity.

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