Departmental Internet

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 12th January 2010.

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Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) (Housing and Planning), Co-Chair, Conservative Party

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much has been spent on (a) strategy and planning, (b) design and build, (c) hosting and infrastructure, (d) content provision and (e) testing and evaluation for his Department's website in each of the last three years; and what budget has been allocated for each such activity in 2009-10.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Europe)

The scope of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) web presence has evolved significantly over the last three years. We have moved from a web platform hosting a number of embassy websites (2003-08) to a completely new web platform hosting all of the FCO's websites plus FCO blogs and campaign sites like: and

(2008 onwards).

Because of the significant changes in our web presence we do not have full and comparable data for the last three years.

The data we provide relates to the entire FCO web platform, not just to our main UK site:

The FCO web platform hosts over 250 websites in 40 languages. These websites include the main FCO website, Arabic and Urdu versions of the FCO website, the UKvisas website, the FCO Freedom of Information website, and over 230 embassy, high commission and special mission sites.

These sites are viewed by 35 million visitors a year (2008-09 statistics).

(a) strategy and planning and (b) design and build :

The FCO Web project (2006-08) was about planning, designing, building, hosting and servicing a single technical platform for all the FCO websites. The project also delivered new designs, content, functionality and a new hub and spoke model for delivering business support.

The initial cost of £9.7 million for the FCO web platform was set out in the answer given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, on 30 January 2008, Hansard, column 398W.

The project followed the Office of Government Commerce Gateway Review process and delivered on time and under budget. The total cost of the project (from 2006 to 2008) was £9.3 million, £400,000 under budget. This included, for these years, procurement costs, client side advice, all design and development for the 250 websites, a new content management system implementation, hosting and licensing costs. In addition, it covered a number of additional costs, including costs for training of over 300 delegates worldwide, project management, strategy consultation, user testing, accessibility testing, and establishment of regional hubs (London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC) to provide business support and training.

Logica sub-contracted elements of the project out (e.g. to XM for design, to Alterian for the CMS, to Verizon for hosting). The amount Logica paid XM for the design work is commercially protected and not known to the FCO.

(c) hosting and infrastructure :

The following figures include support costs, as well as hosting and infrastructure costs. The most recent figures also include development costs. Because of the single contract with Logica to provide all these services, it is not possible to separate out the different cost elements. These costs are in addition to the one-off project cost set out above.

2006-07-support and hosting costs: c.£500,000 (development costs unknown)

2007-08-support and hosting costs: c.£515,000 (development costs unknown)

2008-09-support, hosting and development costs: £1.45 million

2009-10-projected support, hosting and development costs: £1.45 million

(d) content provision and (e) testing and evaluation :

We provide all content, and undertake all testing and evaluation in-house. Work that we do in-house (including testing, and content updates and changes, for example) is carried out on a daily basis by hundreds of staff across the organisation. It is not feasible for us to be able to calculate the total time spent on this work.

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