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Government The Internet United Kingdom Your Rights Online

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

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 icebike ( 68054 ) on Friday June 25, 2010 @09:00PM (#32698856)

    As a Google advertiser, I've yet to find a way to prevent bidding against any other specific site.

    I don't believe Google allows that level of detail. I'm also not aware that you even know the other bidders.

  • by suky ( 59722 ) on Friday June 25, 2010 @09:19PM (#32698986)

    It's a two way street. Governments are slow to adopt streamlined purchasing systems because they're spending tax dollars and so everything has to be accounted for and purchases authorized in various different and often complex ways. Many vendors are more then happy to put up with all the inane purchasing requirements BS the government will throw at them in exchange for a high-volume and usually exclusive contract with higher prices then retail consumers would pay.

  • by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Friday June 25, 2010 @10:01PM (#32699240)
    Nobody in the UK ever has to spend half a day at the UK equivalent of the DMV unless they work there. Vehicle registrations are dealt with by main post offices (or online, of course) and by post. Do it when you're in town, 20 minutes tops if you pick a busy time, more likely 5.
  • by eugene ts wong ( 231154 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @02:48AM (#32700474) Homepage Journal
    You can't blame only the contractor. Many times the greatest ideas are turned down by the client, no matter how well you explain it. That's what makes government a necessary evil at best, and an enemy at worst.

    I work for the government. We were just chatting once, and I casually expressed my disappointment at waste and this seasoned veteran [literally a military veteran] said something along the lines of, "You can't think of it that way. The military is a devouring animal and nothing more. We do try to prevent waste, but all we do is devour.". That's true. With social services, their main goal is to reach out to as many people as possible, so they always come close to spending their budget or over. They'll never ask how they can reduce their spending. With our government websites, they don't need bells and whistles, since they have a captive audience, anyways. Yet, they went the low road and chose non-standard HTML. The stories could go on and on with every kind of government organization.

    For multilanguage web sites, even in the 90s, our government could have allowed the user to identify his language preference in his browser. I think that Netscape 4 and IE 4 had this capability, and it was an actual standard, but no, the government preferred to have a welcome page, with a "Please select the language of your choice.", and it still does. This current implementation creates 2 different web sites, instead of 1 web site with different languages.

    Most web sites are *still* inaccessible for blind users, I bet.

    If you ask for a floating house, and if you would just keep searching for a contractor until he says, "Yes.", then you can't blame him for not trying to "figure it out". In fact, just giving the government what it wants might actually save the government time, and thus reduce the costs of implementing the stupid project.
  • Re:YRO? (Score:2, Informative)

    by mindwhip ( 894744 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @03:22AM (#32700576)

    It's not even that simple... some sites directly compete and have contradictory information....

    The example they were using on the BBC News channel... [] - (chips = French fries to you odd Americans that can't call anything by its correct name... French fries are a specific type of chip and what you call chips are in fact crisps) run by the Potato Council which is a division of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (a government entity) encourages you to eat MORE chips [] is run by the NHS and encourages you to eat LESS chips

    (of course the fact that lovechips was featured on BBC means that their click count has gone way up and now are safe from the cuts... before it had fewer than 100 hits a month, and really should have been cut as it has nothing that is useful to voters or the government.

  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @04:03AM (#32700724)

    Oh yes, the "joys" of the good old UK Post Office... ...a place where there are always as many closed counters as there open ones... ...a place where there is never any attempt made to stagger employee lunch breaks to take into account the fact that they are busiest during lunchtime periods... ...a place where the staff will openly moan at you if you drop in a parcel for which you have previously purchased postage online simply to try and help lessen the queues at the counters because it turns out that the actual Post Office gets no revenue from those types of parcel.

    These days I go into a Post Office only when there is absolutely no alternative.

  • by pbhj ( 607776 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @08:55AM (#32701758) Homepage Journal

    My blog had 280357 visits in the last year - that means if it were a gov site it would have cost £3.3 Million GBP to upkeep.

    Actual costs assuming I'm paid £20 per hour, so est. £40 per hour employer costs, would be less than £2k for sure. If you assume those costs include all background research and what have you then maybe it would be as much £4k.

The absent ones are always at fault.