Private Eye for the DTI

A warm welcome to anyone who has been led here by that esteemed publication Private Eye. Just so you don't have to rake around the less interesting corners of the site, you can find the bits about the DTI here:

My co-conspirator Bruce Lawson has a handy category just for the DTI (external link) on his site, clever bloke, which will complete the picture.

For visitors who don't subscribe to the Eye (shame on you) Bruce has a transcript of the Eye piece (external link) on his site.

Current position

At the moment I'm waiting for a response to the internal review I requested after the department dodged our follow-up enquiry. They've told me:

The Department is carrying out an Internal Review into the decision not to disclose the information you request. The review will be undertaken by the Director General within the DTI who is responsible for the policy area within which your original request falls.

The target for conducting an internal review is 20 working days from receipt of your letter. We will write to you again following the review.

I made my request for an internal review on 26th July, so should have a response by 23rd August, which will be published here. If the result of the review is unsatisfactory the final course of action is an appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office.

The tip of the iceberg?

It's probably worth pointing out that the DTI is by no means the only government department to procure and publish such a low quality website, and in doing so ignore the government's own guidelines on web development. There's a fundamental flaw in the current e-government setup at Whitehall, where the eGovernment Unit issues some very good (if now dated) guidance on producing accessible, usable websites, based on best practice, which is subsequently ignored by departments. There's no threat of sanctions from the government itself, so the only risks the departments are taking by ignoring the guidance are of legal action (miniscule) and bad publicity (hello!).

Comments

This is mind-numbing but oh so believable. The US goverment commonly ignores their own section 508 requirements on their websites. Funny [or not] how goverments have the audacity to fine private companies for oversights of a lesser scale, when they can't even keep -- or don't seem to care to -- keep their own houses in order.

Posted by: Mike Cherim at August 17, 2006 5:42 PM

I suppose there's been no outcome from the internal investigation if you've posted nothing on here. Are they telling you anything?

Another issue, though I agree with you (and your co-conspiritor's) comments and agree that it's a shocking waste of taxpayers money on such a terrible site, have you received any comments or support from people who find the site difficult to use because it's so inaccessible? I just wonder because a lot of the time it seems as if the people who really get their nickers in a twist about this are not the people who use screen readers or who are visually impaired, but it's the people who want websites to be designed well, So I just wondered if you'd had any contact from those that you, your co-conspiritor and many others, proport to be representing and fighting on behalf of?

Posted by: Charlie Oates at September 16, 2006 10:58 AM

Charlie, I'm just about to post the results of the internal review.

As for contact from users who have been troubled by the site's inaccessibility, I've had none. That shouldn't be taken as significant though - why would a screenreader user know my site even exists let alone contact me? If such a user wanted information from the DTI site they would most likely have struggled on and overcome its problems using strategies and techniques they've developed from using other poorly constructed sites, or have just given up.

Posted by: Dan at September 19, 2006 9:14 PM

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