After getting weasel words and evasions from our fine public servants at the Department of Trade and Industry about why their new website doesn’t meet their own accessibility targets, I wrote to the National Audit Office to find out if the DTI had been properly careful with public money (on the suggestion of Charlie Oates). (All the history).
I received a response yesterday. Here’s an excerpt (there’s lots of background information that we already know):
We discussed the issues you raised with officials from the Department. In their view, the main cause of the accessibility problems involves the Content Management System. Although the project experienced technical difficulties, the Department did not, in our view, effectively manage its relationship with contractors who were involved in developing the website, and as a result the Department did not achieve its objectives for a website meeting recognised accessibility standards. The DTI recognises that its management of this project was not satisfactory.
The Department has commissioned the work needed to rectify the accessibility problems, and acknowledges that further expenditure is likely to be required to make its website compliant with government guidelines.
There is evidence that the Department is taking steps to learn from the problems experienced with this project. As outlined above, the Department commissioned a review of the accessibility of the website from Nomensa, which identified the main issues to be resolved and suggested a number of solutions that would enhance web accessibility and can be applied more widely in managing procurement projects.
I am not able to comment on the Department’s decision not to provide an answer to you under Freedom of Information legislation on the grounds of cost. If you wish, you are entitled to raise this matter with the Information Commissioner, whose website is www.ico.gov.uk.
So: lessons have been learned, an as-yet unspecified amount of dosh has been pissed down the toilet, but hopefully the public might get the website it should have had in the first place – and a group of unaccountable civil servants might just do their procurement and project management better. Maybe.
I’m not holding my breath.