There are 435 central government open websites as at 31 March 2014.
The Cabinet Office committed to begin quarterly publication of the number of open websites starting in the financial year 2011.
Definition of a website
The definition used is a user-centric one. Something is counted as a separate website if it is active and either has a separate domain name or, when as a subdomain, the user cannot move freely between the subsite and parent site and there is no family likeness in the design. In other words, if the user experiences it as a separate site in their normal uses of browsing, search and interaction, it is counted as one.
Definition of a closed website
A website is considered closed when it ceases to be actively funded, run and managed by central government, either by packaging information and putting it in the right place for the intended audience on another website or digital channel, or by a third party taking and managing it and bearing the cost. Where appropriate, domains stay operational in order to redirect users to the UK Government Website Archive.
Definition of the exemption process
The GOV.UK exemption process began with a web rationalisation of the government’s internet estate to reduce the number of obsolete websites and to establish the scale of the websites that the government owns.
Exclusions from the central government list
Not included in the number or list are:
- websites of public corporations as listed on the Office for National Statistics website, partnerships more than half-funded by private sector
- charities and national museums
- specialist closed audience functions, such as the BIS Research Councils, BIS Sector Skills Councils and Industrial Training Boards, and the Defra Levy Boards and their websites
Finally, those public bodies set up by Parliament and reporting directly to the Speaker’s Committee and only reporting through a ministerial government department for the purposes of enaction of legislation are also excluded (for example, the Electoral Commission and IPSA).
As agreed in the quarterly report of February 2013, the following sites have been included in the list:
- ‘.independent’ sites
- National parks
Inclusion under department name
Websites are listed under the department name for which the government minister has responsibility, either directly through their departmental activities, or indirectly through being the minister reporting to Parliament for independent bodies set up by statute.
April 2014 report
Government website domains have been procured from as early as the 1990’s and at this time, there was no requirement upon government departments to retain a formal record of ownership. With staff changes and new departments formed, it became apparent that departments did not have a complete view of all sites in their estate.
Government Digital Service (GDS) has worked closely with these departments to identify legacy websites which we were not originally aware of, by going through the complete list of gov.uk domains managed by Cabinet Office, under the second level domain (SLD), gov.uk. A full list of gov.uk domains can be viewed here. As well as websites on the gov.uk SLD, we had found that there are a number of legacy websites owned by departments under a .org.uk or co.uk SLD. Because we do not own these SLD’s, information on whether a department has ownership was not so easily accessible, but a strong working relationship with department leads has since helped to identify the majority of these sites.
Previously, the Ministry of Defence conducted their own rationalisation of MOD and the armed forces sites. At the beginning of this report, we agreed to include these sites to ensure a consistent approach.
Since the last report of January 2014, 12 websites have closed and 20 websites (including organisation pages held on the parent departments website) have migrated to the governments website, GOV.UK eg www.bis.gov.uk/brdo. As government websites migrate to GOV.UK, the responsibility for reporting a departments content will become an overall GOV.UK reporting requirement.
The GOV.UK website, created and managed by the Government Digital Service in Cabinet Office, provides a single point of access to government services in an easily accessible way. GDS works closely with departments to close existing websites and migrate their content where necessary to GOV.UK. GDS is able to show transparency in reporting and a clearer, comprehensive picture concerning the management of government websites, whilst ensuring that data and information, vital and relevant to the public, becomes available on GOV.UK.
List of open websites
For re-usability, these are provided as CSV, Excel and ODS files.