The National Audit Office (NAO) has critcised the government's web portal and site rationalisation strategy for failing to measure the benefits of Business.gov, Directgov and the Government Gateway, despite such services costing the taxpayer close to £500m.
The three sites were part of the last Labour government's initiative to put more public services online and to consolidate the 2,500+ public sector sites on the web.
However, the NAO said in the Digital Britain One report that it is almost impossible to quantify whether the sites, which have cost £90.3m a year over the past three years, offer value for money "since the government has not routinely measured the benefits of online services".
"We estimate that the government has spent on average £90.3m per year on Gateway, Directgov and Business.gov over the past three years, while the web site rationalisation programme has cost between £265,000 and £300,000," the report said.
"We also estimate the lifetime cost of these services since launch has been £479m, although the costs of Gateway from 2002-03 to 2004-05 were not available. The government, however, has not generally measured the benefits of this spend, and therefore does not know whether it has under- or over-invested in these services."
The report also pointed to poor user experience with the Government Gateway which may have damaged the reputation of Directgov.
"In addition, some operational inefficiencies have resulted from this fragmented approach to services," it added.
"For example, Directgov and Business.gov each have their own supporting software, which means that some stakeholders are required to have staff trained in the use of both systems."
The report added that, while the services are largely operating satisfactorily, they may soon become obsolete as new technologies come onto the market that offer better value for money.
The NAO encouraged the Government Digital Service (GDS) to "take decisions quickly on governance, policies and investment in services", including plans for a single domain to combine the Directgov and Business.gov services.
The report also urged the GDS to roll out "evaluative mechanisms" to ensure that costs and benefits can be calculated, address digital skills gaps at the heart of government, and ensure that identity assurance services will be available throughout the transition to any new models.
Resetting the telemetry circuits and associated boards brought the instrument back to operations mode
Fortnite news and updates: Flaw in Fortnite authentication could have helped attackers steal player login credentials
Attackers could have used Fortnite security flaw to buy in-game currency on players' stored credit cards
New photos show cotton seeds sprouting in sealed container - with other plants expected to sprout within days
Sudden increases in availability of sniper rifles on Vikendi