Anyone Handled a Government Project Website?

I may have an opportunity to administrate, and possibly design/build a website for a government construction project. Unfortunately, even the company who would hire me to do it can’t give me a good description of what would be required. Has anyone on the forum handled anything remotely like this, who might give me an idea of scope, hourly commitment, anything I should know to confidently bid on the work?

I’ve worked on government projects, not at the base building level but on interior fit-out. The paperwork is immense and the databases were already built by government contractors long ago and just filled in as needed. The forms were made available by the COR in charge of the project (that’s a government designated contracting officer that makes sure everything is running according to plan.)

No idea what would be involved in a base building portal.
Is this a website for the trades to coordinate through during construction?
Is the person seeking to hire you the General Contractor?
If the GC cannot help you, Run. Now. They may be looking for someone to help THEM keep track of everything, in which case you would have to know a lot about how the construction project is going to come together as well as any government requirements for administering such a project.

Without knowing the scope of the project (and even if you told us) there’s no way to know all the intricacies involved in this one particular project. You could be looking at years of work.

And I’m not getting the part where if you can’t get a description of the work why would you even consider the work? Cuz it’s work? I’ve never seen a bigger red flag. Ever.

I’ve built and administered several websites for government agencies — so many that I intentionally avoid them now.

If you’re bidding on the project, is it through a government agency or a private business? Government agencies (at least in the US) often have formal, awkward, and paperwork-driven processes where they select winners by a combination of the lowest price and how well the bidder meets the stated criteria in the RFP. If it’s a subcontracting thing through a private company, it’s anybody’s guess how they handle it.

Government projects can be bizarrely inconsistent. For example, I suspect their focus could be almost solely on the construction project you mentioned, which is likely burdened with all kinds of meticulous details and specifications. The website, however, might be just a must-do budgeted nuisance thing that they know they need, but being engineers and bureaucrats, they don’t know anything about it. I don’t know if this is the case, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

If that, or something similar, appears to be the case, they’re likely looking for the kind of expertise and direction that will make them feel confident about handing it over to someone.

Find out their reasons for needing this website, then prepare a presentation (in whatever way is appropriate) telling them how you will solve the problem. Do so in ways that acknowledge their concerns while giving them confidence that you understand the problem and are in a perfect position to solve it for them.

Don’t dwell on aesthetic issues — it will send the wrong message. Remember who they are, and speak to them as an ally and friendly partner — one with the expertise to do the job.

Talk to them about user engagement, target audiences, goals, public relations, and anything else you sense will give them confidence about turning over the project to you.

Don’t be afraid to talk over their heads just a little bit without seeming to talk down to them. Don’t dwell on things that go completely over their heads and that will seem irrelevant to them (even if those things are relevant). There’s a fine line here — you want to give them confidence that you know a bit more than they do, but not so much more that it puts them on the defense against a perceived know-it-all. Defer to their expertise, but carefully show how your expertise contributes to and complements their own.

Of course, you need to be able to live up to your rhetoric. Don’t pretend to be able to do more than you can.

I’m making many assumptions about the project, which are likely off-base by a little or a lot. These are my experiences, however, so integrate them in whatever way you feel are appropriate.

Good answers, thanks!. To answer some of your questions, the opportunity comes through a client of mine who is a construction management company. They’re bidding on a National Parks project that has a requirement for a website administrator, but the RFP apparently doesn’t say much more about it. If it’s a simple-ish product they need, I can probably handle it for them. If it’s very complicated, probably not. I’ll make clear to them what I can and can’t do.

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