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Government The Almighty Buck United Kingdom

£32k a Day For Birmingham Council Website 150

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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  • Re:Mercenary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dan541 ( 1032000 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @03:25AM (#33551078) Homepage


  • Re:bad story (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mabinogi ( 74033 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:21AM (#33551206) Homepage

    If you're taking the article at face value, then you should take the fact that the 48.4m is the money to date Capita have invested in something as the truth.

    The article is just a bunch of big sounding unrelated numbers thrown together to effect a sense of outrage.

  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:28AM (#33551230)

    Yeah, this sounds like the kind of crap normally put out by right-wing think tanks to soften up the populace for brutal cuts to public services. Fact is, Birminghams a big city and its IT services are bound to be costly simply due to scale. The deficit hawks always exploit this fact to come up with big, scary sounding numbers to show government 'waste'. After all, which sounds worse, "Government spends £1 billion on X" or "Government spends £16 per person on X"? Both of course mathematically equivalent.

    Massaging the numbers doesn't hurt either. Chav-baiter Jeremy Kyle recently whined in The Sun about there being a £192 billion welfare bill and then starts complaining about people without jobs basically being subhuman - as if the entire £192 billion were spent on jobseekers allowance - the reality is that only £2.9 billion is spent on it, and the vast majority of that bill goes to supporting children, people on state pensions, and the disabled. But don't let facts get in the way of scapegoating the unemployed, Kyle.

    There is only one source of our current financial woes, and it lives in the City of London. Right-wing think tanks are constantly putting out this bullshit as a misdirection technique. The bankers want us to blame some defenceless underclass instead of marching on their bonus-bought mansions with torches and pitchforks...

  • Re:Shhhhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sortius_nod ( 1080919 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:42AM (#33551286) Homepage

    I have a T-shirt from think geek that sums it up:

    "Technical Support: Your ignorance is my job security"

    I wonder if this is the employee uniform at Capita?

  • Re:Shhhhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:36AM (#33551446) Homepage

    They're called Crapita by Private Eye for a reason. However public service IT in the last 3 decades is a long story of waste, incompetence and stupidity. Hooray for privatisation - a worse service for a higher cost!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:31AM (#33551622)

    I obviously have to be careful what I'm saying for legal reasons but if the Toffs have their flash cars and big houses targeted, and some fat cat banker gets stabbed in the street I'm not going to get in anyone's way.

    Yes Comrade, fight the power! I haven't worked to earn any of those things either, but damnit I can express outrage towards the people who have! Life isn't fair, so let's hurt other people! Wooo!

  • by mjwalshe ( 1680392 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:41AM (#33551652)
    that's an old name for the geo tags - you muppet,
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:14AM (#33551882)

    Yes Comrade, fight the power!

    Ahhh, your comment starts with a veiled dig, trying to insinuate that the parent is some kind of communist.

    <meme type="phone message reference">The 50s called, and they want their propaganda back.</meme>

    There is no reason why anyone of even moderate intellect would find your accusation offensive, and the fact that you even reach for that tool speaks volumes about your thought processes, and how they have been influenced and polarised.

    Once people are polarised, they are much easier to control. Ever heard of divide and rule?

    I haven't worked to earn any of those things either,

    You think most rich (and I mean really rich) have actually worked for what they have? Hahahaha, don't be fucking stupid. The rich are only rich due to the existence of poor - rich and poor are relative terms, after all. The mega rich are in positions where they can effect everyone else's wealth, and most of the time when people are critical of the rich they are being critical of the ruling elite, not directly their middle-class lap dogs.

    Though of course the uber-rich of today wouldn't be where they are if it weren't for a middle class willing to do much of the dirty work in keeping the poor poor.

    And if you think many rich have worked to get where they are, that shows your ignorance of how capitalism works. Once you control enough capital and means of production, you can't fail to make more money. The system works like this by design[1], so that a few will always be at the top. The system is balance between peace and revolution, and middle class wealth is the key. If the middle class are comfortable, but the poorest not, you just get riots. If the middle class and poorest are uncomfortable, then you get revolution, and that effects the top.

    but damnit I can express outrage towards the people who have!

    Yeap, freedom of speech.

    I hate to just hide behind that banner - that's a technique the BNP use to just spout venom. When asked to explain their attitudes, they hide behind "freedom of speech" and say they don't have to explain. Perhaps it is just more like really they can't explain, because their venom is based on poor logic, and they know it?

    There are plenty of valid discussions around though about rich and poor, and everything in between. I know I am not good at presenting them, but at least I know the world isn't what is presented to me by the billionaires and banks that actually own or control most of the media.

    It is also easy to slump into just following conspiracy theories - but they work like religions, so are best avoided: Some super-human-like character is pulling strings, and because we can't see them, they must exist.

    Life isn't fair, so let's hurt other people! Wooo!

    Sounds like the politics an policies practised by the very same rich people you are defending.

    But what your parent was saying, in case you did miss it by mistake or ignorance, and aren't trolling by misinterpretation, is that he wouldn't stand up for a banker being knifed. I personally would (until I felt that I was at more of a risk than the first person being attacked) as even bankers are human beings.

    I'd almost like to prevent a stabbing outside a bank - as once the stabber has run off no doubt the banker would stop to say thanks. I'd take the opportunity to explain that what they do is no better than the guy with the knife, and due to their shocked state they might actually take it to heart.

    Or perhaps I'm not jaded enough yet by humanity, to think that someone who works for a bank could see the parallels with a knifing?

    [1] Is this me slumping into a conspiracy theory? Maybe. I do feel societies evolve much like species, so saying design is easy. Just view the word design as a metaphor for the coming together of a bunch of things I know I don't fully understand - human psychology, economics, sociology, etc..

  • Re:Shhhhh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hero Zzyzzx ( 525153 ) <{moc.gnisirpukeeg} {ta} {nad}> on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:41AM (#33552276) Homepage

    I'm betting they're building this in a framework (though "framework" may be too grand a word) that mixes the presentation and logic layer. All that whitespace represents branches in the code (conditionals, database queries, etc.) that weren't executed for that particular page view - or were executed and nothing was output to the screen in that line number. If you don't write your erb tags correctly in Rails, it'll emit spurious whitespace into the source, too. If you weren't writing your logic in your controllers or models (bad!) and not asking erb to collapse whitespace, yeah, you'd get a ton of empty lines.

    Oh god. If that's true, this site is an untemplatted nightmare under the covers. Worst case: "Hey, can we change 'Latest News' to just 'news?'" "Sure - just edit line 6643, but don't throw in a syntax error or you'll break the *entire f'ing site.*"

  • Re:Shhhhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tanktalus ( 794810 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:44AM (#33552282) Journal

    As always, capitalism only works when all sides are peers in the transaction. That means that the person, or, in this case, the government bureaucrat, who looks for private companies to tender on a contract needs to be aware of what they're asking for. They need to understand what the transaction entails, and they need to understand the alternatives (whether hiring someone to do it in-house, or it's simply the competition in the marketplace). Any time you are at an informational disadvantage, you open yourself up to being taken for a ride. There's a reason why government tenders generally include the clause "we reserve the right to go with any vendor, not just the lowest bid" or something like that: so that they can weed out crackpot offers.

    It seems to me, then, that the person in Birmingham's city government who decided to go with this outfit was at an informational disadvantage and could thus be duped by incompetent and/or malicious corporations. They apparently took the lowest bid, not the best bid.

  • Re:oops (Score:4, Insightful)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @10:31AM (#33552512) Homepage

    > ...its Oracle...

    Well, that explains the cost.

  • by jeremyp ( 130771 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @03:11PM (#33554276) Homepage Journal

    That is £637 per named user. That's great if you are the only person going to be using the application, but if that's the case, you'd probably be better off using sqlite which is £0 per named user.

    On the other hand, if your application is going to be used by say 500 people in a local council, it's going to be about £30K worth of named users.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.