As an accountant and former auditor I love the fact that the UK has an organisation that scrutinises public spending on behalf of Parliament.

Late last year the National Audit Office published a report titled “Digital Britain One: Shared infrastructure and services for government online”.  This report evaluates the value for money gained from the £90million average annual investment over the past three years in digitalising public information and transaction services.  It concludes that the digitalisation of services could have been rolled out more efficiently than it was, that it has come at a higher cost than anticipated, and that because the Government hasn’t been measuring the benefits of online services, it cannot demonstrate optimal use of resources.  However, whilst financial benefits are not clear (it goes on) performance has been managed and most targets have been met, although there is scope for improvement.

As a user of these digital services – I am a regular visitor to directgov and other government department websites – I would happily feed-back that the investments made, while high, have certainly made my life as an information seeker much easier than previously.  A good web page will give me the answers I need without me having to deal at all with a live person which saves money somewhere, for sure.

But this got me to thinking about the role and limitations of access to online information and help.  Websites and social media feeds are often the first port of call for information seekers and it should now be standard that organisations have a well-designed informative website stating the purpose and function of that organisation, with contact information and links to other useful sites.  Amazingly, it isn’t!  Also just as important is that you can find their website.  You can’t always!

So now I understand why PLMR offers ‘Developing a Web Presence’ and ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ as key services:  this is a digital age and even the government has ‘got with the program!’  We have (I think) a great web site which gives you good information about what we do, but there is a degree to which nothing beats the informed human touch.  Give us a call and find out how we can improve the online visibility and advance the message of your organisation.

I await the next National Audit Office report with great anticipation.

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