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Obama team spending $18 million to redesign Recovery.gov already

July 16, 2009 | 12:44 am

Recovery_gov

 Recovery.gov is the Obama administration's website for tracking government stimulus spending.

Will there soon be a tracking explanation of the $18 million that the administration has recently dedicated to redesigning and maintaining the newly-launched site for the next four and a half years?

The Maryland-based Smartronix Inc. won a bid for $9.5 million to redesign the already-functional Recovery.gov by January and up to $18 million through 2014, according to a press release from the General Services Administration.

Smartronix isn't giving interviews right now about the deal, but the company released a statement saying it will offer "24x7 operation and maintenance" in addition to the initial creation and installation of the new version.

To complement the beefy computer servers that the company will need to run the site and support millions of users, Smartronix will keep a mirror version of Recovery.gov in case things go wrong.

At first glance, the White House got ripped off. Twitter Inc., the fastest-growing social network, didn't even raise that much money in its third venture funding round last year.

Some website designers had similar first impressions when asked about the contract.

"That's insane," said Brad Crowell, a Los Angeles-based Web designer who worked on a now-defunct media-rich social network. "I would never have to work again in my life... It doesn't even take a million dollars a year to keep a site up."

Chetan Damani, director of Imano, a Web development company with 40 employees and offices in New York, London and Mumbai, initially agreed.

"That's a pretty sweet deal," Damani said on the phone from London. But putting it in perspective, Damani conceded that very few design firms can follow through on the hyper security and quick turnaround that Smartronix is promising.

"They're following some pretty strict standards," Damani said of Smartronix. "It's more than just a design."

Still, we hope there's a lengthy explanation on the new version of Recovery.gov that explains this particular drop in the budget. Or you can just link to this post. That works, too.

-- Mark Milian

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Image: A spending chart from the current version of Recovery.gov.

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