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Departmental Internet

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost of introducing his Department’s new website was; for what reasons his Department’s website was changed; and if he will make a statement. (201078)

The recent upgrade of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) corporate website is part of a wider project to deliver a new web platform and improved web presence for the FCO over five years.

The work will provide a single technical platform for all the FCO websites (including the main FCO website, Arabic and Urdu versions of the FCO website, UKvisas website, the FCO Freedom of Information website, and 229 embassy, high commission and special mission sites in multiple languages) as well as new designs, content, functionality and a new hub and spoke model for delivering business support.

The project will complete in September 2008, by which time all of the FCO posts websites will have joined the new platform and will operate under the central domain, fco.gov.uk.

The initial cost of £9.7 million for the web platform was set out in the answer given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Meg Munn) on 30 January 2008, Official Report, column 398W. The project is on target to cost £19.2 million over five years. This includes running costs, for example hosting and support, and some staff salaries. The cost of the project to date is £9.2 million which includes the design and implementation of the FCO and UKvisas websites, and the design of the embassy and high commission websites. It also includes procurement costs, client side advice, setting up regional hubs to provide business support, and training. Details of the project and costs were published in Whitehall and Westminster World on 4 April:

http://www.civilservicenetwork.com/index.php?id=41&no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=34250&tx_ttnews[backPid]=29

The web is vital for the delivery of the FCO’s Departmental strategic objectives. More people, in the UK and overseas, have contact with the FCO through the web than through any other channel. The FCO is committed to using the web to deliver its Policy Goals as well as key services such as travel advice and visa information.

The project has followed the Office of Government Commerce Gateway Review process and is delivering on time and to budget.