French Government to Downsize Online Presence

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The French administration under President Nicholas Sarkozy announced earlier this week that it will reduce the number of websites owned and operated by the central government tenfold over the next two years.

A far cry from the more than six hundred sites currently hosted by the French government, by 2010 all domain hosting of government information, services and resources will be consolidated into a far more streamlined sixty sites.

The announcement came from the Finance Minister following widespread criticism from the public that it was near impossible to find usable resources and information about the French administration on the internet, despite extensive and financially costly efforts to ensure transparency through the free hosting of all relevant government materials.

In addition to reducing the overall number of websites in the pursuit of a user-friendly web presence, the administration has also announced plans to accelerate development of personalized services from various government bodies. This mirrors steps undertaken by the United Kingdom and other European nations over the last eighteen months to cut down on bureaucracy by placing a renewed focus on technology.

Employment, tax and other revenue related bodies should have webhosting by the end of 2012, and these sectors will receive ongoing updates in the interim to encourage remote use of government services and cut down on labour costs. The most recent figures show that more than 10 million French citizens used a newly unveiled “tele-tax” system to submit income data electronically, rather than using traditionally paper-based methods.

The Finance minister has suggested that this number could double or even triple given streamlining and key strategic updates to existing government websites. The introduction of national care cards to give electronic access and updates on health care matters has led to a 4 percent increase in revenues for the French National Health Service, and ministers are working on the assumption that similar gains can be made in other sectors.

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