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Half of Whitehall's websites axed in a year

There are still over 400 online, though ...

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The government has claimed to have almost halved the number of Whitehall websites over the past year. Its annual Central Government Websites report, published by the Cabinet Office, says that 444 are now open compared with 820 a year ago.

The closure programme is part of the government's campaign to reduce spending while taking an organised, accessible approach to providing public service content online.

Among the websites closed over the past year were courtfunds.gov.uk, hmprisons.gov.uk and the Identity and Passport Service site, ips.gov.uk.

The report includes an example of savings made in the Department for Education after closing certain websites. The department saved more than £1.7m by closing teachernet.gov.uk, governornet.gov.uk and standards.gov.uk. All the relevant content has been moved to the department's main website.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said: "This announcement shows the significant progress that we're making in government digital services. We are cutting costs, duplications and contradictions to make government web services easier to use and cheaper for the taxpayer.

"This report shows the ambition and drive of this government in the digital arena."

The website rationalisation programme was originally launched in the Transformational Government strategy of 2005, but has been embraced by the present government following Martha Lane-Fox's Revolution not Evolution report of November 2010.

The Cabinet Office is working on a prototype for a single government web domain to host all main public information, building on the services delivered through Directgov with additional features. It is now in a beta version with a view to public testing in early 2012.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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