The Presidential Office will launch a new multimillion-dollar Web site today in what is being called the most comprehensive overhaul since the office's Web site was launched 14 years ago.
Presidential Office Spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) told a press conference that the new Web site cost between NT$6 million (US$187,000) and NT$7 million to redesign.
Asked why it cost so much, Lo did not answer, saying lawmakers posed the same question when the office requested the budget last year.
He said the entire process had followed the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法).
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) in August last year called the price tag “outrageous” and urged the Presidential Office to refrain from wasting taxpayers' money.
James Buu, deputy director of the Presidential Office's Public Affairs Department, said expenses were higher than in previous years because they had to spend an extra NT$2 million on hardware after all government agencies were required to move their computer room from Academia Sinica to the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission.
Buu said it was a one-time fee and that starting next year, the annual maintenance fee would be between NT$3 million and NT$4 million.
The presidential Web site was set up on Feb. 1, 1996, under then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). It received a makeover in 2000, when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came into office.
The new Web site will be available to the public after 8am today. It will have Mandarin and English versions. A version for children and another for cellphone users will also be available.
While the old Web site offered a simplified Chinese version, Lo Chih-chiang said this would no longer be the case, adding that this should not be a problem because conversion from traditional Chinese characters to simplified Chinese is easy.
Asked why President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was referred to by his full name in his biographical entry while Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) was only referred to as “Mr Siew,” the spokesman said it was “common practice” to address a person using different titles at different times.
What mattered was that they were introduced as president and vice president in their entries, he said.
On the president's mailbox, the spokesman said the design was a post card and that the public could write as much as they wanted.
Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) came under fire in April for setting a 1,500-word limit for his online mailbox.
The new Web site will also have more video footage and security measures will be strengthened, Lo Chih-chiang said.
He encouraged the public to write to the Presidential Office if they had any questions about the new Web site.
He added that those whose recommendations were used would receive a gift.