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Government The Almighty Buck United Kingdom

£32k a Day For Birmingham Council Website 150

Posted by samzenpus
from the you're-doing-it-wrong dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Birmingham Wired have uncovered that Birmingham City Council spend on average £32,000 a day maintaining a council website that has cost the tax-payer over £48 million to date, while councils nationwide prepare to say goodbye to 26,000 jobs due to budget deficits. Capita, a London based outsourcing company, states on their website: 'To date we've invested £48.4m in a combination of staff training, network upgrades, server replacements, hardware and software — and we continue to drive efficiency through innovation.'"
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£32k a Day For Birmingham Council Website

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  • bad story (Score:5, Informative)

    by teknopurge (199509) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @02:28AM (#33550854) Homepage
    The summary is disingenuous: the cost is for their IT, not just a single HTML website.
  • Re:bad story (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @02:34AM (#33550882)

    not only that, but the 48m is the amount the outsourcer has spent on improvements to their entire operation, not how much the council has spent.

    The whole article is at best, poorly informed, at worst, outright lies.

  • Re:efficiently... (Score:3, Informative)

    by 1 a bee (817783) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @02:38AM (#33550900)

    filling their pockets, you gotta admire the chutzpah of the people who would actually get away with charging that sort of money

    Apparently this same chutzpah caused the story to break in the first place. FTA:

    Capita, a London based outsourcing company state on their website: To date we’ve invested £48.4m in a combination of staff training, network upgrades, server replacements, hardware and software – and we continue to drive efficiency through innovation.

  • ICBM Address (Score:5, Informative)

    by jginspace (678908) <jginspace AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday September 12, 2010 @02:42AM (#33550912) Homepage Journal

    Yes you're definitely on to something:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICBM_address [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:bad story (Score:5, Informative)

    by jginspace (678908) <jginspace AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday September 12, 2010 @02:57AM (#33550972) Homepage Journal

    The summary is disingenuous: the cost is for their IT, not just a single HTML website.

    Could be:
    http://www.capita.co.uk/about-us/Pages/Birmingham.aspx [capita.co.uk]

    Service Birmingham is our joint venture with Birmingham City Council, Europe's largest local authority, established in April 2006 to provide the Council's information and communications technology (ICT) services. Substantial investment and innovation have created an all-new platform that underpins the Council's ambitious business transformation programme. To date we've invested £48.4m in a combination of staff training, network upgrades, server replacements, hardware and software - and we continue to drive efficiency through innovation.

    The cost of the site itself was covered a few months back - excellent reporting from Heather Brooke and friends:
    http://podnosh.com/blog/2010/05/27/the-report-on-birmingham-gov-uk-is-published/ [podnosh.com]
    http://helpmeinvestigate.com/investigations/49-when-can-we-expect-a-new-birmingham-gov-website [helpmeinvestigate.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @03:02AM (#33550996)

    The 48 million number? Is taken out of context from a company's own website. Context that is lacking is timeframe, actual details of the spending...and you know what, that's enough that I don't feel like going any further.

    These numbers may be facts, but they aren't a story. They're just being used to drive emotions.

    I say we mod Article Down.

  • by Elvis77 (633162) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @03:29AM (#33551090)
    I love a "The Government are Idiots" story as good as anyone but this one just doesn't make sense. Last year the Birmingham Post (http://www.birminghampost.net/news/politics-news/2009/08/04/cost-of-new-birmingham-city-council-website-spirals-to-2-8m-65233-24307674/) stuck it to the council over a 383% growth in the cost of the website... it went from £580,000 to £2.8m. Where does the £48.4m come from? It comes from Capita's case study which IS NOT about the web site (http://www.capita.co.uk/about-us/Pages/Birmingham.aspx) Birmingham Council may or may not be doing the smart thing and Capita might be ripping off the good people of Birmingham... if it's like City Councils where I live then they are probably screwing up badly but this article is a load of crap
  • by julesh (229690) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @03:40AM (#33551122)

    Capita might be ripping off the good people of Birmingham

    Crapita never do anything without ripping off good people. Here in Coventry, they've installed voice stress analysis software to attempt to detect people lying when they claim benefits... of course the fact that VSA is essentially snake oil hasn't stopped them spending millions on the piece of software this paper [scribd.com] was written about. Well worth reading if you want to know the kind of junk our councils spend our hard earned cash on.

  • by greg_robson (638474) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:08AM (#33551354)

    ...I can say that we all waited ages for the site to relaunch, when it finally did we are shocked.

    • Poor accessibility, basically the same content under a different template. It took them 2 months to get the "Pay your Council Tax online" feature working again.
    • There was no consultation with the target audience (Birmingham City Council covers approximately 1.2 million people).
    • All the features we were expected such as here's my postcode...
      • ...where's my nearest school/doctor"
      • ...who's my Member of Parliament
      • ...when do my bins (trash cans for those across the pond) get collected.
    • ...were nowhere to be seen despite being common on many other council websites.

    So bad is the situation, some local web developers have set up their own community built site:
    http://www.bccdiy.com/ [bccdiy.com]
    And while still in it's early days (design could be improved), it has the useful features and shows events that are taking place in what is a vibrant and modern city.

  • Re:Shhhhh (Score:5, Informative)

    by SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:15AM (#33551374) Homepage

    I live in Birmingham, I know people that work in IT at the council.

    IT was taken over by Capitia, they also have contracts for many other councils and government departments. I have never known a corporate company to be so wasteful and incompetent.

    Biggest news last years was the re-write of the web site. Was first estimated to be cost jut over £600k, and was to be competed in March 2006. However, Capita over-run and completed it mid 2009 at a cost of £2.2 million.

    http://www.birminghampost.net/news/politics-news/2009/08/04/cost-of-new-birmingham-city-council-website-spirals-to-2-8m-65233-24307674/ [birminghampost.net]

  • Re:Shhhhh (Score:2, Informative)

    by Flossymike (461164) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:24AM (#33551406)

    Very curious. Why all the white space in the page source?

  • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:08AM (#33551866)
    The Labour Party manages to look worse than bad without any help from others.

    In fact, the Labour party could not look other than bad: Old labour still believes Marxist economic theory is correct - despite the fact that it was proven stupid in theory and practice, while new labour: Blair was secretly negotiating with Mugabe!

    There are NO redeeming features of Labour whatever.

    However, if the bankers' "derivatives" ponzi scheme is not stopped soon, even the rich will be in the same situation as flooded Pakistanis.

  • Re:bad story (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:16AM (#33551890)

    "Largest local authority", county councils aren't comparable as each district within them has its own council authority.

    London, for instance, is split into 32 boroughs. There is no subdivision of the Birmingham area by even-more-local-councils. Like it or not that claim of theirs is true.

  • by devent (1627873) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:33AM (#33552230) Homepage
    No wonder it's so expensive, it runs on the most expensive software out there. Windows Server 2003 and Oracle-Application-Server-10g/10.1.3.0.0 Oracle-HTTP-Server. [netcraft.com]. But the side is all wrong in FF3. The menu is in the middle of the side and the content is under the menu blob. Maybe next time they just using a Linux server with a custom Drupal or Wordpress.

    Why the government always needs a site to be build from scratch? There are 100 open source CMS systems out there, where you have a) localization, b) forum, c) uploads, d) content management, etc, etc, all already developed. Just spend £1000 on a nice theme and another £3000 on customizing it. I don't think the side will have 10,000,000 visitors per day where you need an Oracle HTTP server with an Oracle DB and a highly specialized website.

  • by devent (1627873) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @02:46PM (#33554112) Homepage
    Why would you buy that? Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress, etc. are all free and you don't need to buy a Windows server to run it. They also talk you into bying MSSQL server, where just MySQL or PostgreSQL are free.

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