Supreme Court's untendered website cost revealed

My thanks to Charles Arthur at the Guardian for picking up my piece last week on the apparent commitment to using open source for government websites. In the same article, he notes an FOI request which reveals that the costs behind the admittedly quite pretty website for the new Supreme Court.

  • It cost us £360,000.
  • It was produced by Logica, and uses Open Objects. It’s built on the RedDot CMS.
  • And here’s the best bit, which Charles overlooked: ‘No tendering process took place, as the work was let to Logica under the existing DISC commercial framework and to Open Objects as part of their on-going service provision.’

For that money, you’d have hoped for half-decent HTML coding – but there are some pretty basic errors to be found.
You’d have hoped for a website which doesn’t seem to consist primarily, almost exclusively, of PDF files – even a basic press notice.
You’d have hoped for a website with an RSS feed – several, in fact. But no, not a single one.
You need to ask yourself whether £360,000 seems like a fair price for such a website. I’d suggest it isn’t. Even with a significant allocation for design, I’d have thought you could produce a similar result – with better functionality – for 95% less. If there’s more going on behind the scenes than is obvious from the front end, perhaps they might like to explain what.
This is a perfect example of why I’m not scared of all the talk about massive public sector spending cuts.
Well done to Henry Kitt for extracting that figure via his FOI request.