The Birmingham.gov controversy, as told by The Telegraph…

19Aug10

Crafty Posterous. This went on the HMI blog to talk about the recent Telegraph story highlighting Birmingham City Councils massive comparable overspending on website redesigns.

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Sometimes, it’s nice to sit back and read through the results of a hugely successful investigation. Even nicer when we kicked the whole thing off.

The Telegraph online reported on Monday that “councils are spending millions on redesigns of their websites despite facing the biggest funding cuts in their history”, with a story originating from a Helpmeinvestigate investigation into the Birmingham City Council website renovation.

The proposed website renovation had been announced in 2007 but was nowhere to be seen until 2009, and was supposedly being outsourced by private hire IT firms.

But, those working on the investigation could have had no idea as to the extent of the spending that was going on; after it was unveiled in 2009, investigations revealed that the total cost had ballooned from a proposed £580,000 to an incredible £2.8 million.

When the Birmingham Post reported the costs in September of 2009, Helpmeinvestigate finally had a result, and one that was clearly massively newsworthy.

The report written by Nick Booth (@podnosh) provides an appropriate conclusion to the story and offers an element of riposte on behalf of Birmingham City Council.

Birmingham City Council have come under further scrutiny however as a result of the Telegraph report, which has looked in further detail at the spending on council websites across all the counties of the UK and has placed Birmingham City Council as the highest spenders.

By spending over three times as much as any other council.

And 28 times the mean.

In fact, one third of the entire website redesign spending figures for the UK belonged to Birmingham City Council.

The full chart and figures are on the Telegraph article, including the raw data from the FOI requests made by themselves and peopleperhour.com.

It will most likely come as no surprise to most of the people working on the investigation that Birmingham City Council topped the chart, but the degree to which they have seemingly overspent has been magnified by the relatively moderate spending of most council.

It is by no means a bad thing that the council tried, back in 2007, to show that it was aiming to be in touch with the more technological aspects of serving the public but have those good intentions been overshadowed now?

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