I realise web standards, accessibility and the like are quite esoteric but hear me out on this one before you click away. Between 2003 and 2006 the Department of Trade Industry went through a web development phase with their site. The job of designing their site was contracted out to a company called Fresh 01 (with Fujisu supplying the Content Management System infrastructure).
Fresh 01 were then given a scope and specifications requirement along with the relevant accessibility requirements as issued by the Cabinet Office for all government websites in order that they comply with Single A Wc3 standards and endeavour to comply with AA if they can.
The site was built at a cost of £170,000 (under budget by £25,000) and went live, proudly boasting that it was AA compliant. Then, in May last year they discovered that actually the site wasn't AA compliant at all. In fact they discovered it wasn't even Single A compliant. The logos were removed and the a "plan" was put in place to fix it.
At the time, the DTI made clear that whilst Fresh 01 had been given compliance as a requirement for the design, the DTI would instead cover the cost for fixing the site. It was under budget by £25,000 after all, a little bit of cash spare should cover it right?
Well, here we are, almost a year later and the site remains exactly the same as it did when the compliance logos were removed. So what's going on? Well, they do indeed have a plan, and they have a "technical work stream" beavering away on it, with a completion date of sometime near the end of the 2007.
So 18 months isn't very efficient, but hey, they're fixing it right so that the website is in line with the Government's own requirement. That's a good thing? Well maybe not. In order to fix the website that was broken from the start by a design company which failed to perform it's brief, it's costing us, the taxpayer, an extra £105,503. That's 60% of the original broken website cost.
Excuse me for a moment for being confused? But why should the taxpayer fund the fixing of something that they've already paid for but that wasn't what was requested? In the private sector there is no way a company would just shrug and say "ah well, we'll have to pay to fix it ourselves". OK, so it's not anything like the scale of the MTAS scandal, but at it's core the issue of non-delivered deliverable remains. The precedent doesn't bode well for the cost of fixing MTAS that's for sure.
On the bright side there are rumours that one of the first things Gordon Brown will do is scrap the DTI and split its briefs into other departments. In which case Brown would actually be saving the taxpayer money. Now there's a funny thing!