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UK Gov't To Review Hundreds of Websites, Axe Many of Them 92

Posted by timothy
from the scarce-resources-infinite-desires dept.
krou writes "The UK government is to review all of its 820 websites after the Central Office of Information revealed that for 2009-2010, the government spent '£94m on website development and running costs and £32m on web staff,' which each site visitor representing a cost of £11.78 to the government. 'The UK Trade and Investment website averaged 28,000 users per month but cost over £4m ... 16% of government departments did not know how their own websites were being used by tax payers, and almost a quarter were not aware of the running costs.' There was also anecdotal evidence of departments bidding against each other for search terms on Google. The review is to be carried out by Cabinet Minister Francis Maude, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, and Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox."
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UK Gov't To Review Hundreds of Websites, Axe Many of Them

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  • by hedwards (940851) on Friday June 25, 2010 @09:16PM (#32698972)
    It's a good idea that they're paring things back and hopefully reducing the number of sites that are necessary. Here in the US, WA to be more specific, our state government did that some years back. They cut it back to just one website, with sub domains for various parts of the government. The basic idea was that pretty much any idea should be no more than a handful of clicks away from the front page of the site. And if you couldn't do that you should be able to click on a unified search engine that could find any state resource in minimal time.

    Admittedly, it's not perfect, but I've found it to be an efficient way of finding information on state government. And it actually does a better job than many corporate sites do in terms of accessibility.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25, 2010 @09:38PM (#32699110)

    especially given their terribly below level of quality and usefulness.

    Aww, come on, tell me this [direct.gov.uk] isn't the best thing you've ever seen.

  • Re:YRO? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kitkoan (1719118) on Friday June 25, 2010 @10:51PM (#32699486)

    I'm not sure what this has to do with my rights online. This pertains to an internal governmental review of *its own* websites, not other people's.

    Well in one way this has to do with your rights online is when a government removes information (web sites) from the public, it makes the public a little less informed of what their government is doing and what services it provides the people. The article isn't very clear of which sites are going to be removed and the more that are removed with information that might be useful/vital to the public, the more this effects your rights online. While the cost might not be worth the added expense of the hosting, some of these sites should possibly be merged and in the end to save the labor of merging the sites the government might cut corners and just cut the information out all together. A less informed public is a public with less rights and say in it's government.

  • Re:YRO? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2010 @04:09AM (#32700750)

    Well in one way this has to do with your rights online is when a government removes information (web sites) from the public

    Who says there was any information on them?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2010 @04:19AM (#32700798)

    I don't know about your jurisdiction, but in the UK, the government can't force you to accept a contract for work. So, if the government offered you, say, £1,000,000,000 to look after 650 real dancing poodles for their new Interactive Web2.0 Houses of Parliament Simulator, the moral thing to do would be to refuse. Otherwise you're just receiving stolen goods from a fence.

    Actually, I'd go further to say that a government should be employing its own permanent staff of web designers and never need to contract out.

    (Hint to libertards: not a rant against government, but a rant against inappropriate channeling of tax money to private hands.)

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @04:21AM (#32700808) Journal
    The thing is, while there are a few websites that will have a handful of visitors but relate to multi-million pound businesses, most government websites are targeted at individuals. Thousands of people will visit the DfT website to renew their road tax every day.

    On the other hand, does the food standards agency really need its own website, updated daily with separate pages for Scotland and Wales? Couldn't this be combined with several others into a single government information site? Does Ofsted really need a team of 4 to keep its website up to date? Some of these departments spend a few thousand outsourcing. Great! Can others? Well worth considering.

    And even the ones that do provide a single reference for a handful of multi-million pound companies - can't they be made a little cheaper?
  • It's about time... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:24AM (#32701032)

    I worked in local government from 2005 to 2009 where I was involved with the 'Priority Service Outcomes' basically a list of targets with a value attached; if you do x number of these you'll get to keep a boat-load of money from central government. We were quite a small council and I built a website and CMS which met the targets of guidelines; I used all open-source tools and implemented things in a very standards compliant way. Other councils I met with (we all had the same targets) were spending £100K+ on proprietary systems and adopting non-standard approaches. It's pretty criminal really; ~450 councils in the UK all going off in different directions and spending the same amount of money. Whitehall should have spent £200K on open-source projects such as Drupal or Django and an army of volunteers through sponsorship; they'd have a much better system with no waste and no repeat of effort, not to mention the improvements that could be brought back to the projects themselves.

    I left the public sector very frustrated; jobs for the boys. There's a lot of talented people in local government, but, they're usually not at the top which is full of lifers with no ambition or clue.

  • by mangu (126918) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:36AM (#32701078)

    some sites directly compete and have contradictory information

    And that's the way I like it!

    The kind of country where contradiction is not welcome is not the country where I'd want to live. There may be pros and cons to eating chips or fries, and I think the government should release all that data and let the public decide.

    Think of your mini-rant on how that food is called. What would you say if some "Royal Council on Nutrition Terminology" decided that "chips" should be called "fries"? Geroge Gershwin said it best:

    "You like potato and I like potahto,
      You like tomato and I like tomahto;
      Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto!
      Let's call the whole thing off!"

     

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