More Than Half Of Government Websites Closed Down

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

The government’s credibility concerning IT has been called into question again after it admitted that it has closed more than half of its websites

The British government is once again in the firing line over its IT practices, after it admitted that it has closed 907 of its 1,700 websites, following the recommendations of the Varney report back in 2006.

Earlier this week the government unveiled its long-awaited new IT strategy, which could cut sector spending by £3.2 billion a year through the more effective use of open source, as well as energy-efficient technologies and cloud computing. This comes after the shocking cost of Labour’s botched IT projects was exposed in an investigation by the Independent newspaper.

That investigation found that British taxpayers had been left with a bill of more than £26 billion for computer systems that either suffered severe delays or ran over budget, or that were cancelled altogether.

And now according to public services website Kable, it seems that 907 of the government’s 1,700 websites have closed. This translates to a figure of 53.3 percent of government websites closed down, which begs the question why it had so many websites in the first place?

And it seems that a further 479 websites are “committed to be closed”, which pushes the figure up to a staggering 81.5 percent.

Kable said that this data emerged in a written answer from Cabinet Office minister Angela Smith on 27 January 2010. She had been responding to a request for information from shadow Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.

The Tory MP had also asked for details of the numbers of websites operated by different organisations in Whitehall.

Smith replied that, as of the end of last year, 793 central government websites remain open (182 are run by departments and 611 by executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies).