back to article UK government websites out of control

The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts has released its report into government websites, and it is not impressed. It found the Government is not sure exactly how many websites it has, but believes there could be as many as 2,500. Nor does it know how much these websites costs or if anyone is using them. Total …

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Ed
Go

Searching...

Well, you can just use google with the 'site:gov.uk' keyword appended to the search string...

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Coat

Insert story about ISPs....

Saying how the government should finance their bandwidth fees for letting people access the goverment sites!

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Paris Hilton

Err...

"The Committee complained that 16 per cent of government websites have no information on who is using them"

Won't Phorm be able to help with this.

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Stop

Poorly designed, badly planned and....

generally uninformative.

That is my experience with government websites. I've even written to a few asking them what the purpose of the site is, as the information is so poorly structured... no response ofcourse.

This revelation comes as no surprise.

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Thumb Up

Google Custom Search

The government are working with Google ?

http://www.google.com/coop/cse/

Google's custom search, it takes about an hour to setup, granted if you wanted to heavily customise colours, etc then it may take longer, it also displays adsense (unless you pay £99). To be honest its quite a small fee, i'm sure the government could stretch to this.

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Joke

Ask Phorm

Can't they just ask BT and Phorm who's been visiting...? Maybe the lack of government intervention in the Phorm row is just a lazy way of doing an audit of their visitors...

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xjy
Linux

Swedish Parliament good at website work

Not the same as the Government, of course, but in 2006, the Swedish Parliament won first place for public service sites in an Internet rag's "best sites of the year" awards, and in 2007 it came second. And for all the right buzzwords - accessibility, openness, transparency, clarity, etc. And it's even got an English section.

The Government Offices do OK, and have a lot of English on hand, but when it comes to Ministries and local government and all the massive government agencies it turns into a jungle. Some are very good, and some just suck.

Makes you gawp in admiration at the EU sites dealing with all the different official languages!

Now if only the political and social content made it worth the time and trouble to access these sites...

(Tux cos he's more than just a nice pretty pair of flippers...)

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Dead Vulture

accessibility standards

"One third of sites do not meet accessibility standards for those with disabilities - the Committee wants this fixed by 2011."

The governemtn accessibility standards are a joke... if you impliment them you break every GUI and Web Useability rule out there... it is a bad thing if this happens!

Just look at transport direct: http://www.transportdirect.info/web2/

it meets all the standards ;)

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Alert

Just another money pit

any government department will suck up as much money as they can from the taxpayer and squander it where they can, just so they can get at least as much next year. I've worked for the civil service once, never again.

gimmie a Guy Fawkes mask and lets get the revolution rolling!

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Flame

Google

Seeing as a lot of organisations are sceptical about google's motives with our data, let's hope it's not going to be asked to index anything they don't want REALLY well indexed. Some bad news might innocently creep up to the surface :)

Flames, cos, google on sensitive info = playing with fire

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If only...

...there was some sort of commercial system that could be installed in the ISP's to monitor all HTTP traffic without letting the user know and so work out how many people were visiting Government websites.

Anybody know of such a system?

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Anonymous Coward

@Ed

>Results 1 - 10 of about 60 from gov.uk for not a load of shite

There are 60 worth keeping, Google hath spoken.

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TFL Website

Some .gov.uk websites are pretty decent.

The TFL (www.tfl.gov.uk) website was even shortlisted for a Design Week award, and I think it's up for a Webby too:

http://www.designweek.co.uk/Awards/AwardDetail.aspx?liAwardEntryID=267&liAwardYear=2008&liAwardTypeID=1&liAwardYearCatID=616

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Stop

I know someone who writes these websites

Yeah, last time i met him he turned up in a nice car, he is obviously well paid. He has a degree in sociology (Hee hee) and an interest in computers (Well playing games, ive never known him to write a line of code in his life).

I told him that he must be pretty sharp on the old HTML, etc to do goverment websites, "Nah", he replied "I just use Front page, I would have HTML tags comin' out ma' ears if I didn't".

Yeah, call me jealous, but if you happen to spot a badly written goverment website it must be one of his. I do hope he is the exception.

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Useless search engine

The Inland Revenue website has the most useless search engine I've ever come across. It's truly pathetic. You're far better off using google to find anything you're looking for on the Revenue site.

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Dead Vulture

Convenient

So we can't let some office junior in East Cowpat town-council put a note about the bus times on the local website because we don't have a record of the number of visitors.

And so the only solution is for all websites to be centrally controlled from Downing street, that way we can be sure that only the correct truth is shown.

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Anonymous Coward

Standards

"The governemtn accessibility standards are a joke... if you impliment them you break every GUI and Web Useability rule out there... it is a bad thing if this happens!"

The standards are good; it’s just that they are not enforced. Most gov websites are bought as a cost saving, IE off the shelf content management system. This then requires a shed load of skilled resource to meet W3, PAS78, eGIF6.1 etc because no one sufficiently experienced was involved at the beginning of the procurement to include them. Of course by then there is nothing left in the budget to pay for it, so it doesn’t get done.

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1 to 10 of about 1,310,000

Well, haven't got the time to check for duplicates - but there are some great ones in here. But, there's something for everyone:

www.stabilisationunit.gov.uk

www.4ps.gov.uk

www.therentservice.gov.uk

And of course, they must have all visited www.govtalk.gov.uk first: "Information on policies and standards for e-government"...

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@Ed

Not all the websites are on .gov.uk

What about talktofrank.com

all the .nhs.uk websites

among others

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Have to laugh

"One third of sites do not meet accessibility standards for those with disabilities - the Committee wants this fixed by 2011."

So they are in condrivention of the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995? Actually Pt3 1999 really cover this area.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1995/ukpga_19950050_en_1

Who do we sue?

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Black Helicopters

And it started so well..

In 1990 or so, all websites were more or less under control from the CCTA in Norwich, and they did more than a decent job keeping them online (given the available resources they actually did a *fantastic* job - their last update was to chick all of it onto two fat Dells without a soul noticing until Netcraft spotted it.

There was no money to be made from the tax payer as they were actually competent, and they had the gal to propose Open Standards use in the form of eGIF. So it HAD to close, obviously, as the New Leadership was otherwise unable to cosy up to big players.

Since then it's been downhill..

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IT Angle

So....

....the gov'ment still knows shit about IT management?

How unusual.

(/sarcasam)

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Erm...

Wasn't this what DirectGov.gov.uk was supposed to fix?

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Joke

Re: accessibility standards

I love http://www.transportdirect.info/web2/

One simple search, max 3 station stops, no changes.

Result

>>

Sorry, an error has occurred.

This may be due to a technical problem. Please close the browser window by clicking on the 'x' in the corner.

However, if you continue to experience difficulties, you may have found an error or omission. Please let us know by using the 'Contact us' facility, so that we can correct it for future users.

Please note that accessing Transport Direct in more than one window within the same browser session is likely to cause a technical error. We are working on this issue. Meanwhile in order to view Transport Direct in more than one window please open a new browser session rather than opening a new window (or tab) within the same browser.

>>

My browser does not have an 'x' in the corner. I only have one window open. The error message page does not have a 'contact us' link. My browser does not know what to do with "voice-family" nor any of the other coding errors, not to mention opening FORM tags and no closing tag.

Who is the site written for? - someone using a broken browser in quirks mode?

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Coming soon.....

www.phorm.gov.uk

We know you want it and we know where you live!

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Sites unseen, heard... or accounted for

Does this include quangos? I'm guessing not as they don't have the suffixes indicated. Yet they, and their comms budgets, still drain the public purse, do they not?

It's certainly not easy, especially when there are those who serve more niche social areas that may well be worth supporting... way up to those that really feed a major information interest and could be nice little earners if commercial.

Hence ROIs must be hard to judge, but I think the public deserves better in being able to assess them, from what they do, for whom, with what, at what cost... and to what effect.

Otherwise many seem no more than conveniently vague and unaccountable ways to employ lots of folk at best keeping them busy... or less nobly pushing agendas.

I recently had an emailing from one eco-effort, that seems to have been set up with a massive wadge of wonga with many noisy bells and confusing whistles, staffed by all manner of nifty titled folk, claiming a monthly visitorship of '50,000 hits'. Now I know what the average Reg reader can carry in a fingernail about IT and the web, but this doesn't sound like the best way to share such info, and even if it was doesn't sound like a lot.

And let's not forget, when thinking of bigger (and possibly 'better') sites such as http://www.dft.gov.uk/ActOnCO2/ or recyclenow.com, you are also talking massive ad budgets in support to drive traffic.

It would be great to really challenge these in the same way those not so blessed by 'more benign' funding models are, yet can find themselves competed with for audience... often unfairly. I certainly have experience of going to one quango for help in an area their remit required, only to be rejected but then find what I pitched got cranked out subsequently as part of their offering.

Yet private sites often are much better in delivering public information at much better value, especially by not being constrained by the dead hand of public service agenda, committee mentality and ministerial oversight. You just have to start with some URLs to see how they have not exactly got what it takes to push the buttons of a public used to pretty exciting and entertaining fare.

I find it amazing those we do have to pay for seem to have no way currently of judging their performance and/or worth.

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Happy

Cone hotline????

a multimap -linked site , with gps or rfid monitoring of all the cones in britain?

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Silver badge
Happy

This is summed up well by...

... doh.gov.uk - 'nuff said.

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Unhappy

Google says...

Searched for site:.gov.uk

Results 1 - 10 of about 41,100,000 from .gov.uk. (0.13 seconds)

41,100,000 .gov.uk sites? I wouldn't actually be that surprised if it were true...

In my own experience, the UK government sites need a total overhaul: Especially the procedures regarding the government gateway ID system. I forgot my password, thanks to their stringent password rules requiring me to think up an unusually cryptic password. One year later I need to use their sites again to renew my car tax, I've forgotten my password. No problem, I'll just go through the 'forgotten password' process and sort this out. It asks me for secret keywords. I enter them, it says that they're wrong. I go through numerous combinations until I give up.

I drop them an email asking what I can do, and in response get told that the department linked to on the site doesn't support the gateway ID system. I'm told to contact another department. Not entirely unexpected, given the horrible bureaucracy in place, but i go along with it. After contacting this other department, I explain that I've filled in all of the possible combinations of secret answers and passwords, and that nothing seems to work, and that I now need some help in to regaining access to my account. I'm essentially told that there's nothing that can be done now. I can't even have my account reset, or be allowed to reregister with proof of identification. I'm simply never going to be allowed to do anything related to the government gateway system ever again.

I understand that it's my fault for not recalling my password, or whatever secret answers I entered originally, but the fact that there's no procedure in place for these cases just seems ridiculous. Anybody else had any headaches with the gateway ID system?

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