DTI update - good money after bad?
Loyal readers will remember that in May last year I started to post about the DTI's new yet inaccessible website, developed at a cost of £200,000 of taxpayers' money. If this is news to you please start with the summary I posted in August when the story ran in Private Eye, and at my co-conspirator Bruce Lawson's website, where he has a special category just for the DTI.
In February the DTI posted an accessibility update to their website, detailing a three-step improvement plan, to be completed in early summer 2007.
Being a curious bloke (so I've been told) I was keen to learn more about this plan, and in particular how much more of our money it was going to take to clean up the mess produced by the previous contractors. So I sent the DTI this FOI enquiry on 22nd March:
I'd be grateful if you could provide details of the work described on this page related to the accessibility of the DTI website:
- The cost of emplying Nomensa to audit the website.
- The cost of step one of the remedial work to be undertaken, described as "Make the necessary accessibility improvements to the core DTI website. This will consist of both technical and content work streams. They will address the underlying design, code and content issues that have been identified as requiring attention to meet the appropriate standards."
- The name of the contracted company undertaking the work in step one.
- The budgeted cost of completing the entire process described on the page referred to above.
Please contact me if you require any clarification of this request.
The DTI responded on 23rd April:
FOI REQUEST 07/0139 - DTI WEBSITE
I am writing in response to your email of 22 March 2007 in which you requested information relating to the DTI website.
- The total budget for the website accessibility audit was £10,000. This cost covered:
- An accessibility audit of the DTI website templates;
- Guidance on creating and maintaining accessible pdf documents;
- Presentation of the results at DTI;
- Copies of the reports;
- A workshop on issues raised by the audit
- Central Office of Information procurement and project management costs.
- On the website Step One is described as "consist[ing] of both technical and content work streams". The technical workstream has two elements:
The content workstream is being developed; cost is not yet confirmed.
- Building the website templates. Cost: £59,837
- Upgrading the Content Management System software. This work, unrelated to the accessibility issue, was due and it was prudent to combine it with the template work. Cost: £45,666
- The company contracted to undertake the technical workstream in Step One is Fujitsu.
- The budgeted costs for the technical workstream is £59,837, with a further £45,666 for the CMS software upgrade. The content workstream for Step One is being developed; cost is not yet confirmed. Steps Two and Three of the accessibility project will follow the content workstream.
- The DTI is spending £60,000 on building templates for a website launched under a year ago at a cost of £200,000.
- The £60,000 is part of the money to be spent ensuring that the DTI website meets the standards the department specified in the original requirements for their site, despite the suppliers of that site being made fully aware of those requirements and failing to deliver them.
- The DTI is employing Fujitsu, the very same company that received the lion's share of the £200,000 spent on the original site, to meet the standards they were contracted to deliver in the first place.
- The £60,000 covers only one half of the first step in a three-step process.
- Costs for the other two-and-a-half steps are not yet confirmed.
- The DTI claim the improvement work will be completed by early summer 2007.
I have two perspectives on this. On the one hand, this is positive action, and with Nomensa's help the DTI will most likely emerge with an accessible, usable website. Hoorah. On the other hand, it is a marvellous example of how not to procure, develop and deliver an accessible website. The cost of the remedial work looks likely to approach if not exceed the cost of the original development. A perfect illustration of why you build accessibility in from the very start. No doubt more to come about the DTI in the near future.