Internet usage at Essex County Council

August 26, 2011 3:07 PM

The Essex Chronicle reports that Essex County Council has released figures showing the Internet sites its staff have visited most over the past year.  You can download the numbers here.  Providing its internet history since last August, the figures are broken down in terms of the number of hits and the total amount of time spent on each website.  Interesting in itself, the new data also puts further pressure on other public bodies to release similar information.

The usual suspects are there. Council staff have spent over 7,000 hours more on Facebook than both their official local governmental websites combined. Some people may try to defend staff using these sites in work time for networking and advertising purposes, but such large amounts of time simply cannot be justified purely for work purposes, and it is hard to see it fitting within statutory breaks. Other sites listed with a more professional social networking profile - such as LinkedIn - are used a fair bit, but not nearly as much as Facebook.

Many Councils and Governmental Departments have resisted providing similar statistics on their most visited sites. But lists like these are an essential tool of scrutiny, providing us taxpayers with a real gauge of what Council staff do with the time we pay them for. Without doubt, many council staff members are hardworking and dedicated employees, but we need to ensure that our money is being used as effectively as possible, and not poured down the drain by timewasters.

Taxpayers should not have to file FOI requests to collate this data. Public bodies should be transparent and proactively publish it themselves. Essex County Council and a number of other bodies such as the Department for Transport have shown it is possible.  Other bodies should provide similar data to ensure a more efficient and accountable workforce. Of course, that will have to wait till they can find the time, between shopping online at New Look and Littlewoods and keeping up with the latest cricket scores.The Essex Chronicle reports that Essex County Council has released figures showing the Internet sites its staff have visited most over the past year.  You can download the numbers here.  Providing its internet history since last August, the figures are broken down in terms of the number of hits and the total amount of time spent on each website.  Interesting in itself, the new data also puts further pressure on other public bodies to release similar information.

The usual suspects are there. Council staff have spent over 7,000 hours more on Facebook than both their official local governmental websites combined. Some people may try to defend staff using these sites in work time for networking and advertising purposes, but such large amounts of time simply cannot be justified purely for work purposes, and it is hard to see it fitting within statutory breaks. Other sites listed with a more professional social networking profile - such as LinkedIn - are used a fair bit, but not nearly as much as Facebook.

Many Councils and Governmental Departments have resisted providing similar statistics on their most visited sites. But lists like these are an essential tool of scrutiny, providing us taxpayers with a real gauge of what Council staff do with the time we pay them for. Without doubt, many council staff members are hardworking and dedicated employees, but we need to ensure that our money is being used as effectively as possible, and not poured down the drain by timewasters.

Taxpayers should not have to file FOI requests to collate this data. Public bodies should be transparent and proactively publish it themselves. Essex County Council and a number of other bodies such as the Department for Transport have shown it is possible.  Other bodies should provide similar data to ensure a more efficient and accountable workforce. Of course, that will have to wait till they can find the time, between shopping online at New Look and Littlewoods and keeping up with the latest cricket scores.

Latest Blogs: