Government “unclear” if £90m websites are a success

The Government has no way of measuring how successful its websites are or whether they represent value for money, according to a report from the National Audit Office.

The official bean-counters said the Government does not measure the value delivered by its two central internet services – Direct.gov and Business.gov – or the infrastructure service Government Gateway, which together cost some £90 million a year.

“It is a good thing that people visited the two main government websites some 200 million times last year,” said Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office. “However, it’s still unclear what benefits have been achieved and at what cost. We cannot conclude, therefore, that the taxpayer is securing value for money.”

At the start, the Government was unsure how many sites it had and not all bodies have complied with the policy to close sites

The NAO said it was critical that the Government Digital Service, which is supposed to implement a new strategy to deliver all government information services digitally, builds in the right mechanisms to achieve value for money.

The report did say that some targets had been met, but said it was impossible to gauge whether website closures had been positive, because poor book-keeping has blurred the issue.

“Since 2006, 1,526 government websites have been closed,” the NAO said. “Determining how successful the Government has been in closing websites has proved difficult, however, because the baseline numbers were based on an estimate and targets have changed over time.

“At the start, the Government was unsure how many sites it had and not all bodies have complied with the policy to close sites.”

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