A recent Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report may suggest opportunities for website content management and performance monitoring technology.
Government Agencies Management of their Websites is a report on the Auditor General’s investigation of website management in a number of Federal Government agencies.
The report notes the rapid growth in the use of websites during the past decade. By early 2008, there were almost 800 Federal Government websites.
The Auditor notes that increased reliance on websites to provide information and services brought with it a greater need for agencies to have sound approaches to manage their sites. Poorly managed websites not only increase the risk that information and services are not provided to website users at reasonable cost to government, but can have adverse impacts on other service channels such as extra workloads for call centres and inquiry outlets.
The ANAO concluded website management processes and practices provided an adequate level of support for the delivery of information and services in the websites studied, however, there was scope to improve website management.
For most of the websites, the purpose of the websites was not clearly stated and there was little documentation showing how the purpose guided decisions on website use. The Auditor suggested this made it difficult for agencies to monitor the contribution and impact of each website to the relevant program and agency outcomes.
The audit also found the level of supporting website risk management documentation could be improved. Two of the audited agencies had not reviewed their website risks for up to three years.
The audit report specifically suggests agencies with large or high risk websites can benefit by introducing automated content management systems.
It also suggests many agencies would benefit from an improved understanding of their website user activity, performance, and cost information.
The ANAO made four recommendations aimed at improving the management of websites, in particular:
- development of a clearly stated purpose for each website
- strengthening agencies’ decision making through improved risk management
- reviewing content management processes and practices
- strengthening performance monitoring and reporting.
Intermedium emphasises the value of audit reports (both state and Federal) as a source of information about potential future opportunities. There is a strong incentive for agencies to respond to shortcomings and recommendations included in Audit reports.
Each of the audit organizations provide an alert service to those that register to receive advice about reports when they are released.