Today most countries are drowning in central government websites. In a small, but highly digital country like Denmark with just over 5 million inhabitants there are currently 1000+ government websites and in the US the number is 24.000 websites.
There are certainly more government websites out there than necessary.
To put it another way – time has come for central government to reduce the number of websites, maybe all the way down to 1.
This would be particularly beneficial and sensible given the current tough economic climate.
One government – few websites
In reality, citizens and professionals care very little about which ministry delivers what. Ministries come and go in different shapes, forms and names.
What matters to the customers/citizens is getting their tasks done e.g. doing their tax return or finding the latest legislation within a specific area.
Do you really think the citizens care if it is one ministry or another that delivers? No, exactly – it doesn’t matter.
It’s no natural law that all public offices should have their own website. In Holland they actually did something about it. They realized that they didn’t need 16 different government websites and then merged them all into one website.
One website doesn’t fit all
Proponents of ‘one government – many websites’ would argue that you need many websites because they deliver all kinds of information to all facets of society and hence need many websites. They would say that you cannot have information and tasks regarding defence, traffic and education within one website.
It would create a congestion of tasks, messages and information in general. Could you imagine a teacher looking for a new national curriculum on a single government website? She would have to browse through social initiatives against drug abuse and costal protection plans. It simply wouldn’t work. Government isn’t one entity. It consists of different ministries, boards etc.
They all have different organisations with different target audiences. Hence they need to have different websites.Governments have a special obligation. They must (amongst many other things) deliver information and tools to its citizens and professionals alike.
The vast possibilities of the web help governments to achieve those objectives. Most of the time they must deliver all the soft stuff – knowledge and visibility – but increasingly they bring up advanced solutions that deliver essential tools e.g. the ability to fill in tax returns electronically.
Time for fewer government websites
Maybe one website cannot fit all the tools and information needed, but having 1000+ central governmental websites in a country like Denmark of just 5.5 million is definitely too much.
Both the US and the UK currently have initiatives that seek to reduce the number of governmental websites and this trend will undoubtedly grow elsewhere in the months and years ahead.
What do you think? How can government reduce their number of websites?