e mailed to Triadwatch on this whole XMG Vs. Guilford County issue from someone who wants to remain anonymous.
Custom CMSes can cost anywhere from several hundred, to tens of thousands of dollars easily. It depends on the data and the customization. In the corporate website world, those developments can also cost in the tens of thousands. I know several websites for corporations that were done anywhere for 30k-100k+. Complete design work, and you'd gawk at it. That's just the way things work.
Also, mockups are standard in the industry. You always do a mockup before going through with actual design work. That goes for application development, game development, everything. It's part of good design.
I will say though, that if you want to call into question issues, there are actually several that the more information seem to get disclosed, the more you wonder what's going on (from a business angle).
I am curious why the county isn't chasing this legally. They did pay, and depending on what the PO said, they're not subject to timelines unless written inside the PO itself. So any "extra" paperwork doesn't really do anything when it comes to the actual "business contract" part of it.
From a business perspective, I find a lot of issues with vendor fault here and the more disclosed information, it seems that the more the vendor was at fault. Which in that fashion, I do wonder whether or not there has been weight thrown around politically to stiffen a legal suit. Depending on how the PO was worded, the county is entitled to their money back I would assume.
Give you an example of a basic PO. I as a buyer tell you that I want 5 apples at 10 cents a piece, and you sell them for 50 cents. You sign off on my PO. Thus, you're obligated to give me 5 apples at 10 cents a piece. If you give me 4 apples at 10 cents a piece, then you still broke the contract and I can either not take any of it or sue for not upholding contract.