Multi-million Free State website: what did it cost?

Following media reports that the Free State was spending R140-million on the “redesign/relaunch of a comprehensive integrated website”, the provincial government has held firm that the project will cost much less.

For R40-million the Free State government will also not be getting just one site, Sapa reported, quoting a spokesperson in the office of the Premier, Mondli Mvambi.

“In total, 38 re-engineered websites form part of this project, including the provincial government’s utilisation of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter,” Mvambi said.

This number is in-line with an analysis done by Arthur Goldstuck for technology website Gadget, who counted 39 sites and pegged a conservative estimate of the website costs based on the tender award document at just under R100-million.

His cost breakdown seems to indicate that the figure of R140-million for the Free State website may indeed be possible under the parameters of the awarded tender.

Goldstuck, who is the editor at Gadget and MD of World Wide Worx, said that the Free State government claims do not tally with the tender award document, which also indicates an award date of 24 February 2012.

“This suggests another tender may have been awarded prior to this one,” Goldstuck said.

The table below summarises the cost breakdown as calculated by Goldstuck:

Financial year 2011/2012
Phase 1: Planning, conceptualisation, research & information development
Line item Quantity Cost
R350,000 per site for departments and Metro 12 R4,200,000
R300,000 per site for larger Local Municipalities 6 R1,800,000
R200,000 per site for Entities and District Municipalities 8 R1,600,000
R150,000 per site for other Local Municipalities 13 R1,950,000
Phase 1 sub-total R9,550,000
Phase 2: Design
Line item Quantity Cost
R350,000 per site for departments and Metro 12 R4,200,000
R300,000 per site for larger Local Municipalities 6 R1,800,000
R200,000 per site for Entities and District Municipalities 8 R1,600,000
R150,000 per site for other Local Municipalities 13 R1,950,000
Phase 2 sub-total R9,550,000
Phase 3: Development and Creation R1,100,000
Phase 4: Testing
Line item Quantity Cost
R900 per hour x 10 persons (assuming 3x 8-hour days for testing) 240 R216,000
Phase 4 sub-total R216,000
Phase 5: Implementation R413,600
Phase 6: Maintenance and Content
Line item Quantity Cost
6A – Maintenance: R900 per hour x 2 persons (assuming 40 hours per week per person, over 12 weeks until financial year-end in June 2012) 960 R864,000
6B – Content Generation and Management: R75,000 per site x 3 months (39 sites x 3 months x R75,000 = R8,775,000) 39 R8,775,000
Phase 6 sub-total R9,639,000
Sub-total for 2011/2012 R30,468,600
Financial year 2012/2013
Phase: Maintenance, including review and update of design
Line item Quantity Cost
R900 per hour (assuming 1 person full-time) 1920 R1,728,000
Phase: Content services, generation and management
Line item Quantity Cost
R68,253 per month per site (12 months X 39 sites = 468) 468 R31,942,404
Sub-total for 2012/2013 R33,670,404
Financial year 2013/2014 (same as 2012/2013) R33,670,404
GRAND TOTAL R97,809,408

When asked to clarify the discrepancies between Goldstuck’s analysis and the R40-million figure quoted by the Free State provincial government, Mvambi provided the following comment:

This was the proposal and projections. The project did not commence in the 2011/2012 financial year according to the proposed time-lines over the full 12 months of a financial year and therefore all other time-lines were affected over the 3 year period.

Assumptions about the number of persons and number of hours are not correct.

Various variances are not taken into account, e.g. local municipalities have their own contractual obligations and will be brought on board this project as and when their current contractual commitments expire.

These matters are addressed in the Service Level Agreement and financial implications are limited by the SLA as well.

There is no need to further comment on the details of this matter as we have confirmed the total expenditure on the project thus far.

Update: Mvambi provided comment after publication, which replaced the final paragraph.

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Multi-million Free State website: what did it cost?