> Any startup could design a system better than this
> for $10,000. (For a frame of reference, PlainSite,
> which is roughly as complex as PACER, has cost Think
> about $1,000 so far.
Also, even if the system could be designed for $10,000, the yearly cost of operating it (hardware costs and personnel) would be significant, since all the data from the various courts would need to be entered daily, and someone would need to verify that the data in the system was complete and accurate. Plus, the system would need to be backed up and have redundancy and disaster recovery plans. You can't afford to shut down the legal system across the entire country because one data center loses power. We're not talking about Twitter here; we're talking about critical national infrastructure.
And who said anything about the yearly cost of operating it?
> I'm a senior developer and I cost about that, at freelance rates.
For a month? Do you live in a place with really low cost of living?
For a senior freelancer, different standards would apply, I'd hope.
But in general: More money is better than less money. Especially for essentially the same amount of work.
The point of PACER is to get to documents quickly, which it does very well.
Last year they ditched the database for ideological reasons (over the protests of the public security sector who were finding it critical for officer safety).
That's government IT. Spend absurd amounts of money building something that you could assemble for next to nothing using off the shelf parts, underfund the maintenance, and then throw it away.