Saturday, August 16, 2008

Number 10 ripoff

And just quickly, before I zip off, as yet more details emerge, Mike Rouse is fucking raging about the site.
News reaches me via a friend that the 10 Downing Street website refit to WordPress cost in the region of a shocking £100,000. What’s more, however, is that the theme for the site (according to a scoop on Dizzy Thinks) has actually been taken from another website and then had Crown Copyright applied to it.

The 10 Downing Street website went for the first option - to pick a theme from the web and hack it around. I would charge a few hundred quid for this, probably no more than £500, but again depending on the complexity and time consumed. Presuming the 10 Downing Street brief was quite complicated let’s say it took 40 hours of work to complete. That would have cost £2,000 at the most if they had come to me.

To hear that it cost in the region of £100,000 is frankly disgusting and a rip-off for the tax payer. I wouldn’t dream of charging my WordPress clients that much money for their blogs, the design, the maintenance and the hosting that I provide. If they were charged the same I would feel like I had ripped them off. The fact is that they also simply would not pay that kind of money. They’re not stupid and know that the whole point of going for a WordPress solution is because it is affordable and represents good value for money. 10 Downing Street, or rather us the taxpayer, has been fleeced.

In my day job, I have seen a number of tenders for central government websites (although we haven't gone for one yet) and you wouldn't believe the proposed budgets: they are huge. And hugely inflated.

If a company can make £100,000 from a WordPress installation because the government is a Simple Shopper, you can't blame them for leaping at the chance...


Shug Niggurath said...

No but we can blame the person responsible for the tenders.

I wonder if that person has been able to make a substantial purchase, say over £5000, this year.

I had a friend whose sister in law was a local councillor here.

Both the councillor and her sister somehow both received static caravans very soon after a planning application was granted.

Same rule, very low grade, basic corruption, and I can blame the companies involved because quite simply they are exploiting the same system that we rail against politicians for their blatant abuse.

The entire edifice is rotten from the head down.

V said...

The costs are all about the illusion of quality. The person making the decision to say yes wouldn't know the difference between wordpress and a flowerpress.

£100K is possibly cheaper than the EDS solution and that shows that its competertive - box ticked.

The likes of you and I who could do it using real prices, didn't get through the PPQ because you don't have a diversity policy and a history of offering this service to other Central Government depts over the past 20 years - in short - you and I are untrustworthy!

Unlike the lucky buggers who just made £100k for no more than £4k work!

There is corruption and there is government corruption - and that costs money!!!

Rob said...

On the one hand, the site cost £100,000. On the other, of course, it was entirely free, in that the money was ours, not the Government's money. It cost them fuck all.

Roger Thornhill said...

What rob says.

Cost to the Govt: Zero. Cost to us? 4 years median wage.

I bet the person who actually DID the work only got a few hundred quid for it.

It is an absolute scandal.

TBRRob said...

This is possibly the most insane waste of money I've seen.

It's at least ten times the take the piss price.

Budgie's balls said...

"So what?"

Mike Rouse said...

I guess my hopes live in a strange world where I would hope that businesses bidding for Government tenders would avoid profiteering for the sake of profiteering, but I suppose in reality it's always been a case of getting the most money you can out of a juicy Government contract.

Henry Crun said...

Ahhh, the old inverse snobbery of purchasing in action - "if it's cheap, it's crap".

But probably no more crap than the shite foisted on the govt by Electronic Disaster Systems, Crapita et al.

Dodgy Geezer said...

It used to be the case that the Government had the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), a group of civil servant computer experts, who would negotiate the purchase of Government IT. When they had CCTA, Government projects were delivered on time and to budget. The IT Industry made very little profit.

The IT Industry lobbied to have CCTA closed down, and it was, around 1995. Since then, Government IT has cost an arm and a leg, and uniformly failed.

Go figure....

The Remittance Man said...

Sad to say, but this sort of stupidity is not confined to government. I've worked for companies that supposedly have buying departments who do nothing but "source the best deals". Put succinctly I almost lost my job for going and buying 14lb sledge hammers identical to the one's in the store catalogue at the local hardware store and then trying to claim the bill from petty cash. From a retailer I managed a 30% cost saving over the wholesale, discounted "value" price forced on us by the experts in "buying".

Whether it's corruption or incompetence I know not (though suspect a goodly dose of both), but realistically I don't think it can be stopped; especially not by adding more layers of control. Indeed he only way for government to reduce this gross misuse of public funds is for it to stop doing a lot of things altogether.

Budgie said...

There was, I think, a study done in America that found it was cheaper to get a civil servant to buy his ball point at the corner drug store than use the centrally bought pens.

Leslie Chapman wrote about UK government waste - he was a civil servant (Your Disobedient Servant; Chatto & Windus 1978). Not read it for years though.

David Gillies said...

£100000 is the sort of cash you should be thinking about spending for a bespoke e-commerce application (and not some Ruby on Rails Web 2.0 wibble but something like the first cut of eBay's auction-house engine). Christ, £100000 shouldn't buy you a WordPress template, it should buy you WordPress. OK, I exaggerate, but a hundred grand will get you a thousand hours of a really good developer at his overheaded labour rate, and a thousand hours' worth of a really good developer will get you something spectacular.