Government departments waste £4m on website redesigns

Labour government departments have spent £4 million of public money revamping their existing websites over the past two and a half years.

Much of the money has gone to external consultants and contractors.

In total, £3.96 million has been spent on redesigns and upgrades since June 2007. The figure does not include the estimated £220 million annual cost of running the government sites.

David Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth who asked for the information in a string of parliamentary questions, said: “Dfid ministers should be giving financial support to the poorest people in the world not the wealthiest web designers.

“The money spent on a web upgrade could have paid the wages of 100 nurses in one of the poorest African nations for a year, but for Labour ministers, internet propaganda is far more important.

The Central Office of Information (COI) is conducting a study, to be published in June, into whether government websites offer value for money. The investigation was prompted by a National Audit Office report that said over one quarter of government organisations did not even know the running cost of their own websites, making it impossible to assess whether they provide value for money.

The NAO also found that one in six government bodies had no data about how their websites were being used.

Matthew Elliot, the campaign director for The TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This astonishing £4 million figure shows departments must concentrate on content rather than the appearance of government websites. Many of these sites look a lot better than they actually are.”

What departments said they spent on redesigns since June 2007:

Department for International Development £970,419
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform £528,912
Department of Health £513,000
Intellectual Property Office £355,000
Electoral Commission £283,744
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs £181,000
Ministry of Defence £150,000
Electoral Commission voter information site £140,600
Serious Fraud Office £113,309
Office of Rail Regulation £107,169
Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills £105,167
British Army £75,000
Crown Prosecution Service £60,085
Attorney General’s Office £59,184
Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office £58,741
Office of Government Commerce £54,000
Bona Vacantia £42,598
UKTI Defence and Security Organisation £42,000
National School of Government £27,683
National Measurement Office £20,649
Government Actuary Department £19,461
Scotland Office £12,880
Disposal Services Authority £12,000
Wales Office £10,500
NI Organised Crime Office £6,825
Forensic Science NI £6,187
NI Youth Justice Agency £4,802
Treasury Pre-Budget £4,578
TOTAL £3,965,493

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