Cost breakdown of the R40 million provincial government website

Yesterday news broke of the R140 million that was reportedly spend on the website of the Free State provincial government.
First reported by the The Sowetan newspaper, the amount was soon disputed by Free State director general Elzabe Rockman who revealed that the figure was closer to R40 million. Still, this is an exorbitant amount of money to spend on a website and you don’t have to know much about web development to realise this.
It has also come to light that the website is WordPress-based rather than custom built, with the theme costing  a mere $40.
The tender was awarded by the Free State Province for the “œRedesign/Relaunch of a comprehensive and integrated website“ to the “œCherry Ikamva-Jugganaut Joint Venture“.
In an interview with 567 Cape Talk yesterday, Arthur Goldstuck, CEO of World Wide Worx commented that not even the most secure and complex of corporate or banking websites in South Africa would come at such a cost.
Now, Gadget has published Goldstuck’s break down of South Africa’s most expensive website:
Phase one: For “œplanning, conceptualization, research & information development“, allocates the following funds for financial year 2011/12:
“œR350 000 per site for departments and Metro; R300 000 per site for larger Local Municipalities; R200 000 per site for Entities and District Municipalities; R150 000 per site for other Local Municipalities“.
The Free State Provincial Government comprises 11 departments, including the Office of the Premier. Along with the Metro, the first item therefore comprises 12 sites, for a total cost of R4 200 000.
The Free State province comprises 19 local municipalities, of which 6 could be described as “œlarger“ (those that include the larger Free State towns, namely Kroonstad, Welkom Sasolburg, Parys, Harrismith and Bethlehem). The second item, based on this outline, comes to R1 800 000.
The province includes four “œDistrict Municipalities“, which are in effect umbrella bodies for the 19 local municipalities. The Entities refer to statutory bodies, of which there are four: Free State Tourism Authority, Free State Gambling and Liquor Board, Free State Development Corporation and Centlec, the local electricity authority in Bloemfontein. Based on these municipalities and entities, the third item amounts to R1 600 000.
A total of  13 “œother Local Municipalities“ are not included in the second line item, making for a cost, in the fourth item, of  R1 950 000.
The total cost, then, of planning the Free State government website was R9 550 000.
Phase Two: For “œDesign“, also allocated to the 2011/12 financial year, included the same line items, with the same costing. In other words, the Design of the site/s cost exactly as much as the planning: a total of R9 550 000.
The allocation for Phase Three, the “œDevelopment and Creation“ of the site/s, was R1 100 000.
Phase Four: For “œTesting“, was open-ended, specifying “œR900 per hour x 10 persons“. Assuming, very conservatively, that three 8-hour days were allocated for testing, this would have amounted to a relatively humble R216 000. No ceiling was placed on this amount, however, and it could be ten times as high.
Phase Five: For “œImplementation“, which appeared to be something other than design, development, creation and testing, was given a budget of R413 600.
The total for the first five phases is R20 829 600, simply to get the site/s up and running.
Phase Six A: For Maintenance, and Six B, for “œContent Generation and Management“, is a fascinating mix of hidden and unstated cost. Maintenance is costed at “œR900 per hour x 2 persons“. It can safely be assumed that maintenance was allocated to budget as an ongoing function, i.e. 40-hours per week x 2 persons, amounting to R72 000 per week. Assuming the financial year ended in June, as it usually does for provinces, and a modest 12 weeks of maintenance was provided, the total would be R864 000.
Phase Six B: “œContent Generation and Management“ allows for “œR75 000 per month per site x three months“ in financial year 2011/12. The total number of sites, derived from the breakdown of Phase one, is no less than 39. For one month, the cost is R2 925 000. For the last three months of financial year 2011/12, the total cost was R8 775 000.
Assuming the project started in time for three months of content generation and management to be provided in the 2011/12 financial year, the total paid out in the four months after the tender was awarded would have been R30 468 600.
For financial year 2012, two phases are provided namely:
“œPhase: Maintenance, including review and update of design: R900 per hours;
“œPhase: Content Services, Generation and Management: R68 253 per month per site.“
Based on four weeks of maintenance per month, and assuming one person responsible, the cost of maintenance is R144 000 per month, or R1 728 000 per year. This assumes that it is not a per-site cost.
Content services, generation and management, on the other hand, is a per site service which, for 39 sites, amounts to  R2 661 867 per month, or R31 942 404 for the 2012/13 financial year.
The total cost of the web site for 2012/13: R33 670 404.
The allocation for 2013/2014 is exactly the same as for 2012/13: R33 670 404.
This puts the total cost of the site over less than three years at R97 809 408.

  1. Thanks for the breakdown, Kelly.
    Shocking to think that this went through seemingly legitimate government processes and yet someone didn’t stop to say,
    “Hey, R900 an hour might be a bit much for a website.”

    1. Kuddo’s for the people who got the story out. Lets hope someone is in a position (and has the guts) to do something about it.

      1. I am still following this story, it just died almost two years ago, and no one spoke a word of it ever since.

    1. For what they did, it should have cost no more than R375 000 I reckon… thieves!

      1. These numbers are ridiculous – no doubt about that – but R375k would have bankrupted you on this project; not because of the coding but because of the sheer task of dragging the content out of all those bureaucrats, all the departments, getting approval for the content from a committee that meets but can’t approve because the quorum isn’t there, and then there are those last minute changes e.g. no that guy was suspended… This is more of a consulting job than it is a design one… but WordPress..really.. ag vooitog you poor tenderpreneurs lol

  2. There is nothing wrong with the numbers ,specially if you know its all coming your way

  3. These costs are absolute rubbish which cannot be justified by any means!
    At the VERY MOST and for what are in fact simple, unsophisticated ‘brochure’ websites (WordPress nogal! – the idiots way to build websites) with no advanced programming etc, the entire bunch could be done – and show a very handsome profit to a team of 4 developers, for perhaps 5 million to design, create, populate, upload, test etc etc. and maybe R100k per month (very generous indeed) to maintain and do a few updates.
    Hell if my figures are a thumbsuck, then double it to R10 mil and R200k p.m.- we are still way off the scam number we have heard!
    The ‘comrades’ are either even more corrupt that I ever thought possible – or they really, really think this is the way that business is in fact done in ethical businesses! How wrong can you be, whilst you pillage a country to the bone!

  4. The breakdown makes sense to me if you are in involved in corporate financial management. These figures are based on the proposal of the project and not the actual spending. What is this, a ghost hunt against the Zuma regime and Ace Magashule by the opposition parties and factions? I would like to know the real agenda of the person who gave The Sowetan these misleading information?

    1. Are you kidding me? Did your mother drop you as a child? Ask a real web developer how much this shit costs, and wake up!!

    2. What!? Are you mad? What corporate you work for? Just so I know who to avoid in future …

  5. The really big assumption here is that you need to create a completely “new” website for each of the districts and that each district. This is not the case though. Once one district site has been designed it can be replicated for all of them at no additional cost. Planning therefore should only cost R1.1m not $9.5m. R900 an hour is also not at all linked with industry rates for web designers or programmers. At the rates they are charging they get paid R1.7m a year. CEOs of major companies sometimes only make R1.1m. There is so much padding going on here and the basic calculations are fundamentally flawed. I’d like to see the competing bids to be made publicly available for review. This is so suspicious and reeks of corruption.

  6. These people are a disgrace! Someone pocketed that money and they will get away with it.

  7. $40 for the WP template, 10 x R9mil for various officials, R8mil (+ 1 x Ferrari) hush money for Cherry whatsit… sounds really reasonable to me hey?

  8. Well, I’m glad. If it wasn’t for this detailed breakdown, I would have thought the tax payers money was being unjustly squandered on Ferrari’s, Lear Jets and building castles on a cliffs. At least now I know that isn’t true.

  9. interesting that they budgeted R9550000 for “design” and then used a stock standard $40 theme for the design …

  10. Aside from being extremely annoyed at the waste of my tax money, this story is also incredibly sad. The people that suffer the most are not you and me, it’s the poor souls on the ground who have nothing, and vote for the ANC because it promises a better life. I haven’t done the calculations, but how many low cost houses could be built with that kind of money ? How many clinics could be upgraded and how many schools could get electricity and computers, never mind text books ! How many ambulances could you buy, etc, etc. The Free State Government should think about fixing their roads before lining each others pockets. Shame on you…..

  11. Wow so many unjustifiable costs, some figures make sense when adding the 39 sites together however the over all total of the budget allocated really doesn’t make sense

  12. The worst thing is that he is driving home in a spectacular car, living in a spectacular home and stuffing his face with expensive treats, stealing millions while we have millions of people in South Africa who do not even have proper homes or food to eat. As web developer and South African citizen this sickens me. What makes it worse is that this fraudster and the corrupt government officials probably won’t go to jail for stealing the tax payer’s money.

  13. A “content” website – which is the simplest there is – should cost very little indeed. Testing? oh, the display is correct. oh the links all work. Wow, that was a major test. Tax boycotts.

  14. 900 per hour for 10 people, to test a wordpress website? 400k to upload a wordpress website? 864k to for two people to click on add new post, paste some content and add a picture? Damm i am in the wrong job!!

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