Although the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) new website is still months away from being delivered, it has already blown most of its massive £1.6 million budget, raising the question of what the final bill for the project will be.
The new site, which will replace the presently functional london.gov.uk has, according to a Freedom of Information request by Breitbart London, spent £1,343,322 of the allocated £1,600,000 on development so far. Although a ‘functional beta’ is slated to be released in the next few weeks, the project still has another five months to run.
Judging by the wild success of other government I.T. projects in the recent past, it is conceivable the remaining quarter of a million pounds could prove insufficient to finish the job, and the already significant budget may run over. It has only been four years since the GLA last re-launched its website.
Reacting to the significant amount of London ratepayer’s money spent on the project already, director of the Taxpayers Alliance Jonathan Isaby told Breitbart London: “Of course organisations need to deliver new websites occasionally, but costs have to be kept as low as possible. Money spent on all-singing, all-dancing websites is money that could deliver other services that many would consider far more important. Taxpayers will want to know that the procurement process was as stringent as possible.”
Breitbart London was told by a public sector web-development insider that local authorities could usually expect to spend £80,000 to £100,000 on a new website, which would include complex functions such as payment facilities for council tax, and booking systems for council services.
According to information received by Breitbart, the purpose of the new GLA website doesn’t even go that far, and will instead be what the industry knows as a ‘brochure website’ – designed to explain the purpose of the Authority to taxpayers, and showcase their successes, rather than provide actual services.
The GLA states the main objectives for the new website are:
1. To provide a better digital experience for Londoners by enabling them to intuitively and quickly find information on the work that City Hall is doing to improve their lives and London as a whole, and to offer them a range of ways to influence London government.
2. To give Londoners a more coherent view of City Hall, covering both the work of the Mayor of London and the London Assembly in a single online platform.
3. To bring in new robust digital technology so that the organisation can produce information and communicate in the digital medium more efficiently.
4. To lay the foundation for an agile digital platform that can grow with the organisation.
Graham Godwin-Pearson, co-founder of government digital strategy and website contractor Democra told Breitbart London: “The digital community working in this sector is looking forward to seeing the beta of the new london.gov.uk, to see what’s new since the last rebuild four years ago, and to find out how the budget of £1.6m is being spent. With big budgets come big expectations”.
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