The current website

Delivery of the Isle of Wight Council’s new website – which is already 18 months overdue due to COVID-19 – is expected to be reviewed next week, as the project is revealed to cost £ 765,000.

Concerns about the progress of the website were raised by the board’s audit committee after an internal review identified risks, including “material weaknesses” in the management of the project.

A new website was agreed as part of the council’s digital strategy in 2017 and £ 200,000 has already been spent on the project.

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Since then, the current site has failed to comply with new accessibility legislation, introduced in 2018, which required all existing public sector websites to be fully compliant by September of last year.

In a report to the Business Review Committee, the board said cuts to its budget, starting in 2010, resulted in a reduction in ICT infrastructure, causing it to “quickly become unsuitable for business. his goal “.

When the COVID pandemic hit in March 2020, the website project team was only 3 months into planning and the goal of launching a development (or beta) site by September 2020, designed around the needs of those who use the services, was no longer feasible. The team was redirected to help with the pandemic response instead.

Progress was “further hampered” as new waves of the virus continued to emerge and staff left. The internal audit also found that key documents were not sufficiently available to the team, that there was a lack of detailed planning and weak financial control.

At the time of the review, auditors said it was not possible to identify how much had been spent on the project so far. The report found that the overall project budget, across all 3 phases, is £ 765,000 – with £ 219,800 already spent in phase 1.

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Steps have since been taken to address the points raised by the auditors, but other concerns about the project as a whole have been raised by the advisers, mainly the reason why the council decided to create the website and the system. managing content and not letting another party do it.

Using financial modeling over a 5-year period, based on the time it took for other authorities to build their sites, the council estimated that it would cost between £ 300,000 and £ 900,000 more to use an external supplier to complete the website.

It is hoped that the test website will launch in March 2022 and, once the checks are complete, it is expected to go live in April.

The board says a significant amount of work has got the project back on track, but the initial site plans have been scaled back to meet statutory obligations as soon as possible.

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Members of the review committee will explore the issues further at their meeting on Wednesday, December 15.

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