Ministry website ‘gold-plated’?
Source: Ministry website ‘gold-plated’?
I am dumbfounded. Absolutely speechless.
For once, two of my main passions collide for the first time since designing and building our school website. I worked on this in the school holidays, in my own time, and built it with content from the school’s previous website’s content.
$1.2 million. It’s $1,200,000. That is a lot of dollars being spent for a website, which in technology terms will be requiring a re-design in 4 years time, is a ridiculous amount.
That’s $300,000 for each year of it’s life.
Being a web developer of a variety of small websites, I know the approximate costs of doing this. To get some idea around website costings for large websites, I went and looked up approximate costs for large website designs, for which Education.govt.nz would fit into.
Executionists suggests that large websites with all the costs can range in the area of $14,700 – $29,900. Being from a US based website, we can assume that this translates to $23,000 – $46,000 per year.
While this is based on approximate costs, it certainly isn’t anywhere in the region of $1.2 million, or even $300,000.
Silverstripe is the CMS (Content Management System) that is being used as the backend of the website. This is a Wellington based company, who I have had some minor dealings with (friends of friends helped develop it). Its incredibly flexible, but a lot of the management is done for the user. Silverstripe do partner with developers to help build web solutions. However, it is also Open Source, meaning the Government doesn’t NEED to pay a cent for it. In 2013, the Government teamed up with Silverstripe as a ‘common web platform’, because it would save money by encouraging the use of Silverstripe for all Government websites, which suggested that 10-15 government websites were built or redesigned each year.
The Government has even set up a demo of Silverstripe so that Government agencies can have a play around. Actually, anyone can have a play around. I quite easily signed in and could begin building a demo site. It was easy to see how the Ministry of Education website was developed on from here.
So, if this is the case, if the back end is already sorted out into default templates; then how did this website end up costing $1.2million?
There is no doubt the old Ministry of Education website was due for a rebuild. The old site was developed in 2008, and I’m surprised it has taken this long for it to be re-built. Though, if it has a $1.2 million price tag, maybe it is understandable.
It frustrates me that all that is said in defense of this spending is that the previous website was old and tired and required a rebuild, with new functionality and innovations that is required for our learners, whanau, and teachers in today’s online environment.
But, at the end of the day, the money spent is exorbitant amount in any terms. It makes me wonder if the Government even “shopped” around for its development. Surely there are a variety of design companies out there that would do as good a job, including all the “functionality”, for a much more reasonable price tag. No one is saying it didn’t require a rebuild. What is being said is that it doesn’t need a whopping $1.2 million spent on a rebuild.
Wait a minute. Haven’t we already seen this? Extreme expenditure on seemingly mundane things?
Of course we have. This Government has built a reputation for burning holes in it’s pockets.
Take the case of the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment. In June, it emerged that $70,000 (not previously stated $24,000) was spent on a stone sign out the front of the building. In either case, $24,000 is a ridiculous amount.
Fast forward to June 17, and it emerges that MBIE spends a whopping $140,000 on a curvy screen that is now in their reception area in the head office in Wellington. This is to go along with a $75,000 reception desk.
It doesn’t just stop there though. Let’s take a look at the $26,000,000 spent on the new flag that ‘no one’ wants. I say no-one, but I may be exaggerating – much like the expenditure of this Government.
Meanwhile, children starve, nurses go without a pay-rise, and miners face an improper burial. No amount of money should hold these things back from happening, yet picking and choosing seems to be all that happens.
As Chris Hipkins and others have put it; this money could be better spent on other things. That’s not to say that the website shouldn’t have been rebuilt; but that this could have been carried out without spending such an unreasonable amount of money.