New CERT-UK website will be shortlived

Maude at Sprint 14. Pic: gdsteam on Flickr
Maude at Sprint 14. Pic: gdsteam on Flickr

If Puffbox was still on active service, it would already have brought to your attention the news that:

The number of government websites is increasing despite a high-profile cull, Francis Maude has revealed. The Cabinet Office minister said his officials were engaged in a “nightmarish game of ‘splat the rat'”. “As soon as you knock one website on the head another one pops up,” he told a government IT conference in London. Mr Maude said all sites – including those for government agencies – would either be axed or moved into the gov.uk domain by the end of the year. “There is no reason why every single bit of government should have its own unique web presence,” he told the SPRINT 14 conference. “It’s complicated and it’s expensive and we don’t need to do it.’

Government websites on rise again despite cull‘, BBC website, 29.01.2014
See also: speech on gov.uk

Sadly Francis apparently missed the opportunity to mention this when, earlier today, he stood up on a stage to launch the 55-strong Computer Emergency Response Team UK (CERT-UK). New organisation… guess what? New website.

I only take some modest consolation from the fact that it’s running on WordPress… WP Engine, in fact, as demonstrated by the fact you can access the site via certuklive.wpengine.com.

CERT-UK’s director, Chris Gibson proudly declared at the launch event: ‘Numerous government departments (such as the Government Digital Service who built our website and other technology) have assisted us.’

If that’s true – why does it say ‘Built by Surevine’ in the footer of every page on that website, not to mention the theme’s stylesheet? Why would GDS help prolong its boss’s rat-splatting nightmare?

Surevine, meanwhile, are keen to tell you about their participation in Open Source – ‘it’s core to what we do,’ they say. But their claim to being ‘active’ in the WordPress community is something of a stretch – given that their sole contribution appears to be a single plugin connecting to their own node.js web service, posted not in the official repo but on Github. It’s being watched by a total of 14 people, the overwhelming majority of whom are Surevine staff.

There are plenty of other nits I could pick. But what’s the point? The site will be shut down in 276 days tops. Won’t it?