Public sector organisations should publish lists of websites visited by staff on taxpayers' time

July 18, 2011 2:41 PM

Yesterday, the Sunday Express reported on our Freedom of Information request about Departmental internet usage. We asked each Government Department to send us a list of websites their staff had visited, in order of frequency, and the amount of time spent on these sites. We also asked for details of disciplinary procedures linked to internet usage. The only Department that provided the information was the Department for Work and Pensions. They provided a Monthly list of the top 100 websites visited, in order of frequency. It didn't quite fulfil our response, but they at least were able to easily obtain this information from their internet provider.

No other department could answer the main part of this request - what websites, in order of frequency visited, have staff been logging on to. That's pretty damning. It should be relatively straightforward to hold this information centrally, or do as DWP did and ask their internet provider for a list.

As outlined in the Sunday Express report, DWP staff spent a lot of time on shopping websites. There were also lots of visits to nationalrail.co.uk and numerous holiday websites. Perhaps the civil servants were more keen on getting away then getting on with work.

Staff time is the biggest item of expenditure for most public sector organisations, so it's crucial that time at work is spent productively to give taxpayers value for money.

We feel that each Department - and eventually all public sector bodies - should publish this kind of information as a matter of course. It's simply not good enough that no other Department aside from DWP could get this information. How do they know whether their staff are focussed on the job?

Have a look through DWP's response below and see what websites staff are visiting on taxpayers' time.


Click here to download

Yesterday, the Sunday Express reported on our Freedom of Information request about Departmental internet usage. We asked each Government Department to send us a list of websites their staff had visited, in order of frequency, and the amount of time spent on these sites. We also asked for details of disciplinary procedures linked to internet usage. The only Department that provided the information was the Department for Work and Pensions. They provided a Monthly list of the top 100 websites visited, in order of frequency. It didn't quite fulfil our response, but they at least were able to easily obtain this information from their internet provider.

No other department could answer the main part of this request - what websites, in order of frequency visited, have staff been logging on to. That's pretty damning. It should be relatively straightforward to hold this information centrally, or do as DWP did and ask their internet provider for a list.

As outlined in the Sunday Express report, DWP staff spent a lot of time on shopping websites. There were also lots of visits to nationalrail.co.uk and numerous holiday websites. Perhaps the civil servants were more keen on getting away then getting on with work.

Staff time is the biggest item of expenditure for most public sector organisations, so it's crucial that time at work is spent productively to give taxpayers value for money.

We feel that each Department - and eventually all public sector bodies - should publish this kind of information as a matter of course. It's simply not good enough that no other Department aside from DWP could get this information. How do they know whether their staff are focussed on the job?

Have a look through DWP's response below and see what websites staff are visiting on taxpayers' time.


Click here to download

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