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UK Government to close 551 websites

We usually focus on US government information policy, but this story from the UK warrants a mention. It notes that “Among those which are being axed are out-of-date sites….”

Hundreds of government websites are to be shut down “to make access to information easier” for people.

Of 951 sites, only 26 will definitely stay, 551 will definitely close and hundreds more are expected to follow.

In future government information will be streamlined through two main sites – Directgov and Business Link.

The Cabinet Office called it a natural step as people shifted their interest to use what it called “supersites” such as Directgov and the BBC website.

The annual report on “transformational strategy” [Transformational Government Annual Report 2006], published on Wednesday, said 90 websites had already been closed.

It is not completely clear from the BBC story what information will be permanently removed, what will be kept online but moved to a new location, and what will be removed, but archived. Responses from readers reflect some of this concern and confusion:

“Closing down sites with outdated information is part of the natural evolution of the internet. However I trust the National Archive is taking static copies of these closed sites before they go offline…”

“It’s a bit academic how may web sites there are. It’s not called the web for nothing; information can be linked from site to site and appear to be quite elsewhere from where it appears. If the government is going to reduce the number of silos with their own web teams then good but if less information is made available to the public then this will not be a good move at all.”

“Nowhere on the internet could I find out how much the UK governments spends on the NHS, either in total pounds or as a proportion of the income tax take. They should provide essential info like this. How else can we take political decisions?”

“I note, with interest, that one of the sites being axed is Home Information Packs. If you recall the Government reversed its policy regarding the Home Survey which was to be included in HIPs. Now it removes all web traces of the failed HIPs project.”

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