Conclusions and Recommendations |
1. After ten years of uncoordinated growth,
the Government does not know exactly how many websites it operates,
although it could be as many as 2,500.
The Cabinet Office and the Central Office for Information are
reducing the number of websites, beginning with the closure of
951 by 2011. To prevent a recurrence of the proliferation of government
websites, no new ones should be established without the agreement
of the Government's Chief Information Officer in the Cabinet Office.
2. Over a quarter of government organisations
still do not know the costs of their websites, making it impossible
to assess whether they are value for money.
The Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council should agree a methodology
for identifying the costs of websites, to be applied by all departments
and agencies by the end of the next financial year. An analysis
of these costings should be included in the Delivery and Transformation
Group's Transformational Government annual report.
3. 16% of government organisations have no
data about how their websites are being used, inhibiting website
improvements. The Central Office for Information,
together with the Cabinet Office, should develop a methodology
and a single set of measures for analysing user data such as that
used by Transport for London to make improvements in its services.
The agreed methodology and the measures should be applied by all
departments by the end of 2008-09.
4. The quality of government websites has
improved only slightly since 2002. The
Cabinet Office and the Central Office for Information should establish
and agree with the CIO Council a single set of quality standards
for government websites, which should be implemented by all departments.
These should include the performance of internal search engines
and facilities that allow the public to provide feedback on public
5. The website Direct.gov.uk is set to become
one of the main ways of delivering public services and so must
be reliable and maintained to a high standard.
In taking over responsibility for Direct.gov.uk from April 2008,
the Department for Work and Pensions should commission regular
independent reviews of the risks and progress of the site's development.
Given the importance of Direct.gov.uk to public service delivery,
the results should be shared with the Cabinet Office and the National
6. One third of government websites do not
comply with the Government's own user accessibility standards,
making it difficult for people with disabilities to use the sites.
In moving services and information from departmental websites
to Direct.gov.uk and businesslink.gov.uk and reorganising the
material left on departmental sites, all government websites should
meet the accepted industry standard of accessibility by 2011.
7. The Government does not know how much it
is saving through internet services, nor whether any savings are
being redeployed to improve services for people who do not or
cannot use the internet. Expansion of
online services must not lead to a diminution of services for
those without internet access. Government organisations must establish
how much they should invest in each of the range of delivery channels
at their disposal. The CIO Council should require all departments
and agencies to develop channel strategies, which take into account
the needs of those without internet access, by the end of the
next financial year, and to update them every three years.
8. There is a risk that some people will not
benefit from the Government's drive to expand the use of the internet
for delivering public services and social exclusion may be reinforced.
The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills sponsors
6,000 UK online centres to help people, including those on low
incomes and with low levels of education, access public services
online. The Department should specify the levels of service that
users can expect from the centres, such as basic IT training and
personal support in accessing and using government websites.
9. Government organisations have yet to decide
how they should engage with intermediaries, such as family members,
friends or representatives, who access online services on behalf
of others. There are risks associated
with establishing intermediaries' identities and their right to
act on behalf of others. In 2007, the Cabinet Office commissioned
research on this subject, which the CIO Council should use to
agree common principles for engaging with intermediaries, to be
adopted by all government departments.