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. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
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.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.