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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What does a HIE policy cost?

A colleague of mine were talking about policies the other day. She's been involved in policy development in a number of places, and I've also had an inside view of the process a few times myself, as well as a lot of anecdotal evidence.

So, to start with, a typical policy document might be 50 pages or so. From a professional policy writer, that might take about a page a day, and cost about $1000 to $1500 / day.  You could go lower or higher of course, but this is a decent ballpark range.  So to start off with, $50,000 to $75,000 right from the get go.  Now of course, if you already employ such a person, you might argue the rates with me, but once you account for your real costs spent on their salary, their office, their equipment, and their benefits, you are right back in that range.  Of course, that budget is already allocated, and so might be an easier pill to swallow.

Now, lets look at the work involved.  You probably need a few face to face meetings, hopefully you already have the resources to host that, otherwise you have to pay for that, but for now, lets just assume you have those resources.  An you need a few people, call it 10, to help you work out your policies.  Some of these will be lawyers ($$$$) and policy experts ($$$$) and security experts ($$$), and a bunch of C-level folk (or one level down).  Again, pricy.  You probably need them for 2 to three face to face meetings for a couple of days.  Hopefully they are volunteers and you don't have to pay for their time or travel.  Because if you do, their time could cost you oh, call it $250/hr.  And then you need a few teleconferences.  We won't worry about the T-con facilities, because you probably are already paying for that, and for this project, its small change.  So, call it 10 two hour meetings where not everyone shows up every time, and you have 20 hours * 5 people = 100 hours.  So there goes another $25,000 into the policy.  And if you had 3 days worth of face to face meetings with the whole team, then you have another 24 hours * 10 people = 240 hours.  So a grand total of 340 hours x $250 / hr.  So there went another $85,000.  And if you are signing the checks and managing this, you are likely involved for at least some part of the effort just to oversee the whole project.  So there goes another 4 hours a week times 10 weeks = 40.  So throw yourself into the pool, and 40 * 250 = $10,000.

Add it all up and there went somewhere between $170,000 and $195,000, and three to six months of time.  Hopefully you had volunteers, and that cuts it down quite a bit. But I'm betting you are paying for at least one lawyer and one policy expert, and those people don't come cheap. Even so, you might get by at around $150,000.  And depending on your overhead, and the number of people, and the length of the project you might pay even more than these figures.

Back to our 50 page document.  There are about 250 words on a page.  So a grand total of 12,500 words.  Now, that gives us a range of $12-16 per word.  Dang, I'd love to get that.  I wrote 92138 words for The CDA(tm) Book, I seem to be a few orders of magnitude off.

Not all words are of equal value.  Some stuff is pretty straightforward.  Other words are much more important.  I've seen a room of ten people argue for an hour over two words.  That's around $1250 per word.  Remember that figure the next time you get into a debate over words.

-- Keith

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