Five years + over £1bn = slight progress

The National Audit Office reckons government is spending £208m on websites each year, but that there’s only been ‘little improvement’ in the last five years. Nine recommendations helpfully listed in the executive summary, but mostly fairly predictable – and the good guys are probably doing them all anyway.

It’s a good idea to ‘help departments and agencies to judge the correct level of investment in websites and transactional services’. Unless you know how much something should cost, you can’t really assess those tender responses properly. (And of course, these days, so much of it should be free anyway. Like, er, WordPress.) I’d be stunned if departments aren’t looking in depth at their usage data, but I guess some still don’t.’Ensure websites meet accessibility and usability criteria’? Well, duh.

The suggestion of extra marketing to push the Directgov brand is a bit of a surprise, and would be controversial if taken up. But I’m most interested by the suggestion of publishing ‘revised, up-to-date standards expected of all government websites’. The existing standards were (mainly) written five years ago, and a lot has changed since then. (Intriguingly, they no longer feature on the ‘live’ Cabinet Office site, but they are available in an ‘archive’ area.)

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