Government plans to shut 75% of its websites

The government is planning to scrap hundreds of public sector websites and cut the costs of the remaining sites.

The government is planning to scrap hundreds of public sector websites and cut the costs of the remaining sites.

It wants to shut 422 of the 820 central government sites immediately, and will start a review of the cost and usage of the others. Eventually 75% of the sites will be shut.

It will see if some sites can share resources more and says no new websites will be permitted "except for those that pass through a stringent exceptions process".

Every new site will also have to be cleared by the Efficiency board.

The review of the remaining websites will conclude in September. It will aim to shut 75% of existing sites, and cut the costs of the remaining ones by 50% by moving onto common infrastructures.

The Labour government was in the process of shutting down a long list of sites, but the Cabinet Office reported that only 24 have been shut down so far. The Public Accounts Committee has in the past criticised the government's online strategy and suggested closing more sites down.

A report published today by the Central Office for Information (COI) found £94m has been spent on the construction and running costs of 46 websites and £32m on staff costs for those sites in 2009-10. The Cabinet Office says the most expensive websites are uktradeinvest.gov.uk which costs £11.78 per visit, and businesslink.gov.uk which costs £2.15 per visit.

More money is being wasted by different government sites competing with each other for the same Google search terms, according to the Cabinet Office.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude (pictured) said, "We will take tough action to get rid of websites which are not up to the job and do not offer good value for money and introduce strict guidelines for those that remain.

"I will be working with internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox, our new Digital Champion, on how we further transform government websites as part of our drive to put key public services online and to increase the number of people who are able to use the Internet. She will also look at sharing resources and facilities and using low-cost open source products to reduce running costs."

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