Cost of Discovery

FOI request reference: F0045810
Publication date: June 2016


Please escalate this to someone with the authority to tell me how much “Discovery” has cost, from the beginning of the project until the start of the current financial year.


Partially successful


The Discovery project was commissioned by the National Archives Executive Team. Information about the reasons for its introduction can be found by following the link below, where you will also find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Discovery.

The cost of setting up the Discovery system between 2010 and 2013 was £530,450 in 2010/11, £475,108 in 2011/12 and £67,322 in 2012/13. This amount is inclusive of all expenditure related to, or used in any way as part of the Discovery project during its first three years.

Post 2013, the Document Services department at The National Archives ran a 2 year project to improve record copying services which included a significant investment in Discovery, which accounted for about half of these costs: 2014/15 in £90,319 and 2015/16 in £85,614.

In 2014/15 there was a further project to develop a service to enable other archives to manage their content in Discovery which cost £164,530.

Since 2013 ongoing maintenance and management of Discovery has been treated as business as usual and included in general costs for all of our systems and services. We are unable to provide a further breakdown of these costs, as to do so would exceed the appropriate cost limit for responding to requests under the FOIA.

For central government departments like The National Archives, the cost limit is set at £600. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending just over three working days determining whether the department holds the information, as well as locating, retrieving and extracting it. Section 12* of the FOIA sets out the criteria by which a public authority can refuse such requests.