The cost of communication online

Carl Gallagher wrote:

Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin has criticized the Rudd Government for spending too much on communicating to the public via the Internet. Apparently in the last 8 months 36 websites have been built for a total cost of $1.1Million.

Now I really don’t see what the problem is here. Having produced websites for clients for over a decade (including several for the Howard Government I might add!! All of which cost in excess of $180k each!) I think they are getting a bargain. How any web agency can build a site for a government client at an average cost of just over $30k, and still turn a profit, is beyond me. So congrats to the Rudd government for getting a bargain.

For a web development agency there is the tendering process itself which is a total lottery. This is where you burn huge amounts of time and cash proving that you are worthy, with little chance of success. If by some stroke of luck you are the successful tenderer, then there are the contractual negotiations to overcome. These require you to get expensive lawyers involved at your own expense, unless of course you want to get totally screwed by the government with the risk of losing your business.

If contracts are signed then you have to deal with the bureaucracy in terms of getting approvals on content, functionality, and design. Not to mention compliance with government requirements around security, accessibility, and website performance.

It is all a bit of a nightmare really, so if there are agencies out there doing all this, and producing a website on behalf of the Government and only charging on average $30k then seriously what is the problem?

Digital communication is cost effective and efficient. I don’t have an issue with the Government producing websites to communicate with the population. I don’t even mind if the content of the website talks about the Government’s self-promoting policies or things that are irrelevant to me. They are the Government after all and people voted for them and their policies. Is it not a good thing that they are attempting to be transparent to the people who are interested in listening?

 I would much rather they build a website that I can seek out and find if it is of interest to me rather than generically than put something in my letter box. I wonder what the cost was for all the direct marketing packs that the Howard Government printed and posted to every Australian household cost.  Remember the big glossy brochures mailed to millions of homes around the country talking about ‘work choices’, how to talk to your kids about drugs, why I should buy shares in Telstra (signed by Nick Minchin himself). A print campaign on that scale is not cheap. The result for me was irrelevant, un-targeted, mass communication that I quickly threw in the recycle bin. Now how does that equate to money being better spent?

I would like to hear your response please Mr Minchin. I am happy for you to send this to me electronically rather than waste taxpayer money on pen, paper and a stamp.

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