Government job site doesn't recognise 'Internet'

More Web site blunders for accident-prone government

The government faces further embarrassment over its policy to get all public services online as its own job site fails to recognise the word 'Internet'.

Worktrain.gov.uk is one of the government's flagship Web sites, part of its rush to get all services online by 2005. However, an unfortunate choice of wording on the site reveals an apparent lack of Net knowledge in Whitehall.

When the word 'Internet' is typed into the job search engine, a message is returned which reads: "Internet has not been recognised. It may be mis-typed or not in our dictionary. Please type in a different job title." What the site apparently should say is that there are currently no Internet job postings.

It is the latest in a series of goofs, resulting in criticisms of e-government policy. Last week, a trade and industry select committee was hugely critical of government attempts to combat the digital divide, claiming it had no coherent strategy, that schemes it had set up were futile gestures and that the e-envoy's role had been "captured, tamed and bureaucratised into an e-official". These harsh words were echoed in a Department of Culture, Sport and Media report which accused the government of failing to take account of citizens' needs in its broadband plans.

The government faces a huge task in its plan to get all services online by 2005. A study from independent thinktank Demos last month claimed that it is more interested in fulfilling its target than making sure the services are relevant and of good quality. By his own admission the e-envoy accepts that early projects, such as the Inland Revenue's tax return site, were failures. Less than one percent of forms were filed online and downloading the form took more than an hour initially.

The local government association's Web site is also experiencing teething problems. A supposed link to a recent news story in the Observer instead reads "Insert story here. Blah, blah, blah, blah."

It is well known that the government is extremely sensitive to adverse publicity but this seems to be taking disdain for the press a little too far...

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