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.

Capita to take over NHS Choices

I see today that Capita has been named as the preferred bidder for the £60m+ contract to run the NHS Choices website for the next 3 years – ahead of the incumbent, the Dr Foster Intelligence public-private partnership, as well as IBM, Serco and TATA.
According to Capita’s own press release:

Capita will be responsible for the hosting, technical and content development of the NHS online presence and related digital services. A key focus will be on ensuring innovative engagement with citizens and clinicians to support a healthier nation.

As many as 70 companies expressed an interest when the procurement exercise kicked off late last year. The current contract is due to expire next month.
It’s clearly a big deal, and although I’ve done quite a bit of work lately for the Department of Health and NHS, I don’t know what the implications of a change would be. Anyone care to enlighten us all?