Feeds

Revealed: Public sector's web gravy train

Councils spend like there's no tomorrow. Maybe there isn't

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Even printing money might not save the Web 2.0 gravy train from hitting the buffers. Data released through Freedom of Information requests shows that the average council spent twelve times as much money as the average UK business on websites. And despite the recession, council spending on external web gurus actually rose in 2009.

Examples include Norfolk (the number two spender) splashing out £94,220 for its schools website. Knowsley council made a trip to the strategy boutique, burning through £225,000 "to cover the complete redesign and redevelopment of the Knowsley Council web solution". North Yorkshire County Council splashed out over six figures on a CMS for its "corporate" websites. Cambridgeshire spent £36,000 on a user experience consultant.

At the other end of the scale, Durham Council spent £711 on domain name registration. Individual org.uk domains can be registered for £2.97 each per year - there are discounts for bulk registrations.

Surprisingly many of the sites are mostly static information pages - there's very little transactional work. The hosting costs paid by councils might also raise eyebrows.

Topping the list for the years 2007-2009 were Westminster City Council, followed by Barking and Dagenham, Norfolk and Harringey. In total, councils spent £19.1m on web services, up from £16.1m the previous year.

The figures were obtained by small business jobs site PeoplePerHour, and don't include in-house IT teams, which are already large. Around 70 per cent of councils provided data.

"IT service suppliers to local councils, NHS Trusts and other public services are getting a great deal at taxpayers’ expense," reckons PeoplePerHour chief executive Xenios Thrasyvoulou.

The irony here is that web services really do promise to make large chunks of the bureaucracy redundant. In the old dot.com language, they "disintermediate", or cut out the middle man. So the quest for both IT consultants and web wonks, and bureaucrats alike is to make themselves indispensable.

But with the private sector showing how to "do the web" much more cheaply and efficiently, the end of the gravy train may not be far away. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.