I just want to make it clear that I'm not a naturally suspicious person really, in fact, I'm awfully trusting to the point that in recent days I've realised I shouldn't probably give people the benefit of the doubt quite so much. However,
I'm rather confused right now about something going on at the Wales Office, where, as people will know, Peter "I did nothing wrong" Hain was located whilst also being at the DWP running Job Centres before he had to go and visit one.
You see, what is confusing me is this. Way back in the mists of time, December 2006 to be precise, Peter Hain told Parliament that a
company charity called Eduserv had been paid £13,566 for consultancy. The following week, Hain confirmed that this payment was for the Wales Office website design.
If we then shoot forward 10 months to October 2007, Hain tells Norman Baker, that the Wales Office website is the only one the department is responsible for, that it is bilingual, and, since 2001 has had "a running cost of £1,600 per annum".
Nothing wrong there particularly, but recently the website has had another redesign (pictured) and back in April, in response to a question from Stephen O'Brien, the new Secretary of State for Wales, Paul Murphy, said,
The Wales Office spent £10,500 to redesign and implement the new website and we pay £6,936 per annum for website hosting.Now, call me a pedant if you must, but that hosting cost is, I would say, part of the running cost. That's a difference of £5,336 a year in just over seven months?
What's more, if you work it out on the basis of the new figure, they are basically paying £568 per month for the hosting of a website that is not paticularly flashy, has largely static content controlled by Wordpress (free software). Install and go basically. The point here is that £568 per month is an unbelievably high hosting cost for such a website. They must be getting something good you'd think?
Well, Stephen O'Brien appeared to follow up the question to the Wales Office asking what they actually got for their money. Specifically he asked,
how much bandwidth per month his Department purchases; how much of this is burst bandwidth; what the maximum burstable rate is; what resiliency has been purchased; how many servers host the website; and what backup solution is in place.Pertinent questions given that it costs just over a monkey a month for hosting of a site that can't get that much traffic.* The response was certainly interesting. According to Paul MUrphy,
uses 1 megabit per second, none of which is burst, although the maximum burstable rate is 2 megabits per second. No resiliency has been purchased, but the company who hosts the website has a complete backup. The website is hosted on one server.In layman's terms, they basically have something that would cost about £25 a month in bandwidth terms (I am being generous and saying 200GB a month of transfer). There is no resiliency which means if the one server dies then the site.... well it dies.
Just to put this in perspective, you could buy a rack with the space for 10 servers and that amount of bandwidth for £9000 a year. You do the maths. That's £750 per year, per server, and the Wales Office says it only has one server, that costs "£6,936 per annum for website hosting".
Let's put it like this, some salesman (on commission) at the "not for profit"
Of course, Eduserv also provide services to other Government sites, some of which are bound to have higher traffic which makes you wonder what they are charging them? Those Government departments include:
- Department for Education and Skills
- Department for Transport
- Information Commissioner's Office
- The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency
- Office for Standards in Education
- Department for Communities and Local Government
- Training and Development Agency for Schools (who also use that company that lost those discs in America)
As I said, I'm not naturally suspicious but if someone could tell me where all the extra costs appeared from I would be most grateful because there is inflation and then there is taking the piss!
* I would offer visitor figures, but as Peter Hain also informed Baker, the department "does not record number of visitors." Given how low other Government websites are it is safe to assume that it is not that extreme like say Number 10.