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'Risk of wasting taxpayers' money' etc

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Government web sites run the risk of wasting taxpayers' money, according to yet another critical report into the public sector online.

An outfit called Parallel Ltd reckons Job Centre Online and the 10 Downing Street site are among the worst offenders.

Its eight-week study of 70 public sector sites found that the average download time was 22 seconds - almost three times longer than recommended download times.

The worst offender was the Job Centre Online, which took one minute and 20 seconds to appear onscreen. While the size of the 10 Downing Street home page was 187KB, more than four times bigger than the recommended average size for a home page.

Said Tim Moore, a director at Parallel: "When you consider the amount of money and effort the UK government has invested in encouraging its public to use its online services, it needs to ensure that it is delivering a usable site.

"If the UK government fails to provide effective services that ensure real benefit to the public, then they run the risk of wasting taxpayers' money," he said.

Last month, the Government's spending watchdog, the National Audit Office (NAO), told it to improve its web sites after reviewing 65 sites.

And in January, research by Keynote Systems found that more than half of the Government's Web sites were too cumbersome and slow-to-load for people accessing them with dial-up connections. ®

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