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GovCMS rolls out digital welcome mat to the ‘little guys’

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Less than a year after its initial feasibility assessment, the Commonwealth’s open source website platform for public agencies has “come to fruition” says the federal government’s chief technology officer John Sheridan.

Sheridan wrote Friday on his Department of Finance blog:

“The release of the govCMS website today marks the availability of govCMS to all government entities to create and manage cost effective websites, based on best practice, that are compliant with Australian Government standards.”

Flagship websites and early adopters used to test the Drupal-based offering included Australia.gov.au —  which went live in November as the first showcase of the technology — as well as the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, the Department of Communications, the Department of Social Services, and Finance’s own site. Sheridan said that the feedback from those agencies has been very positive:

“Drew Clarke, Secretary of the Department of Communications commented that ‘by developing our departmental website in govCMS we are gaining the benefits of a cloud hosting solution and we will be able to share new modules designed to enhance policy consultation and engagement, with other members of the govCMS community. It supports our aim as an organisation to be a digital leader in government’.”

Now, the doors have been opened to agencies of any size, in any tier of government. A Getting Started form is found on the govCMS website.

Sheridan said that awareness of the rapidly developed platform has continued to grow throughout Australian jurisdictions since the official launch last month. In selling the platform to agencies, across all tiers of government, Sheridan has highlighted an early design decision to “cater for the little guys”, with larger high-demand agencies subsidising the smaller ones in such a way as to not jeopardise the viability of the service as a whole.

Low cost for agencies, and sustainability of the platform for Finance was a key element in getting it ready for Friday’s announcement.

Acquia, a US-headquartered cloud hosting company with offices in Brisbane and Canberra, has been chosen as the hosting provider, boasting local clients such as Flight Centre, Foxtel, TransLink and Earth Hour.

Niche agencies with less than 15,000 page views per month can expect to pay $10,500 for the first year and tapers off to $7500 after a few years. Whereas, large service delivery agencies with more than two million page views per month will pay upwards of $140,000. A portion of those fees will go to Finance to ensure ongoing development and adopt improvements from the open source world of Drupal.

Smaller agencies will be excused from paying this fee after three years on the platform. Sheridan has indicated that Finance still expects to pick up some of the ongoing cost of the platform’s development under its existing whole of government responsibilities and funding.

More at The Mandarin: Tom Burton: can open source cure Canberra’s Kremlin web?

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The Mandarin

The Mandarin staff journalists.