Cabinet Office web 'takeover'

Leaving aside the inevitable tabloid hyperbole, the Mirror is reporting this morning that:

Scores of civil servants could be axed under plans to hand David Cameron’s “vanity staff” control of all Government websites. The PM wants to create a single unit to take charge of web operations handled by 117 staff in separate departments. Whitehall’s dozens of official websites could be merged into one in a cost-cutting measure which would also allow Mr Cameron’s aides to “brand” the coalition’s presence on the internet. Former Tory party staffer Rishi Saha, who oversees No10’s internet site, is expected to be in charge.

That would certainly be in keeping with the signals I’ve been seeing over the past few weeks.

8 thoughts on “Cabinet Office web 'takeover'”

  1. Sounds like a brilliant idea. Anything that not only makes things simpler for ordinary people to understand and navigate is brilliant. Perhaps more importantly, through measures such as this, the publishing of business plans and of departmental structures, it seems likely that the Government might be able to see where there is duplication across departments.

  2. For example, in the Treasury there are at least two teams dealing with pensions, probably a couple in the Cabinet Office, and given the announcement made by Vince Cable the other week presumably at least one in BIS too. Surely it should be the responsibility of the Department for Work and PENSIONS? There will probably be a few ‘Quangos’ dealing with pensions-related issues too, as well as a couple of committees in Parliament. And then in the end policy will probably end up being decided by either the guy that writes the manifesto, or whichever minister publicly announces whatever he or she wants to announce (as then everyone has to scramble around to make it work so that the Government doesn’t lose face).
    But then hopefully this website stuff is an example of how the current administration is trying to sort it all out.
    Sorry – mild rant over, now back to something related to what this blog is about…

  3. Crikey that’d be one enormous job. Seems a little naive to me but will be interesting to see what happens. Maybe its possible for the pure content sites but the transactional ones are a different story. If they managed to do it he’d have the most important job in govt.
    I find it slightly worrying since presumably many of the sites in question are presumably reasonably non-political thus far. A little independance is a good thing.

  4. Haven’t many teams been working on this rype of rationalisation for years, with Directgov? Yes, that’s for all public orientated content, but I suppose this would be an extension of that. We all know that’s massive.
    It also shouldn’t be so related to the coalition that closely – what about when/if they go? This will be a beast of a job.

  5. Red you’re right of course. Isn’t that 30 million/year or so to run ?
    There’s an optimum size when it comes to overall effeiciency I think, there is such a thing as too big/too few sites (and too small/too many).
    Cameron being a marketeer, I suspect we’re talking only of content based sites, not those with inbuilt transactional stuff you can do useful things on – whether it be fill in your tax return, order a new passport etc (which are the ones that soak up the cash for the technology and more significantly staff to run them)
    Completely agree about tying them to the coalition too – not how public money is supposed to be spent.

  6. To be fair, Matt, the ‘content’ sites have a habit of soaking up the cash too. I’ve catalogued plenty of examples of unspectacular sites costing hundreds of thousands of pounds in the past. Maybe not the £millions of the worst examples, but bad enough to notice.
    I certainly wouldn’t expect any kind of explicit ‘The Coalition’ branding; more likely, if anything, to be either ‘HM Government’ or Directgov. The former would be the natural choice, but given the £££s spend on Directgov brand development (and the potential SEO benefits?) the latter might be a reasonable proposition.
    It’s now a month since Martha Lane Fox submitted her report to the Cabinet Office. I wouldn’t have thought we’ll have to wait much longer to hear her plans… or rather, the ones Francis Maude has accepted.

  7. >> I certainly wouldn’t expect any kind of explicit ‘The Coalition’ branding
    Nor would I. That doesn’t mean there are no ties. There are an uncomfortably large number of ex-Tory staffers involved for my liking…

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