WEB: A total of 71 government websites have dropped in rank according to the results of the second website competition.
Only 21 websites improved in rank, while two remained the same.
A total of 137 websites were evaluated in the second competition, with 101 of those also being evaluated in the first. The results of the first competition were declared in June, last year.
The sites of 20 private firms were also evaluated this time. The firms, including banks, information technology firms, and private colleges, among others, registered their sites for the competition.
Seven of the 137 sites could not be accessed and received no ranking.
“The final results indicate that many of the websites have degraded despite repeated announcements about the competition in the media,” it was stated in a DITT press release.
“Although the reports and the recommendations of the first assessment have been shared with all webmasters, many of them have not taken corrective measures,” it is added. “This could be due to the short span between the two evaluations and the lack of funds allocated annually for the upkeep of websites in agencies.”
DITT applications chief, Jigme Tenzing, said that a reason for the standard of websites remaining static could be “low priority” accorded by webmasters. “Lack of technical skills in the webmaster is also one of the factors,” he said. He also said that agencies do not get an annual budget for maintenance of websites.
“Only few websites have improved,” he said. “Other have rather degraded.”
Like in the first competition, no government websites received a score that would place them in the “excellent” category.
The top three government websites remain the same although ranking has changed. The agriculture ministry took first place this time, followed by the Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT), and the finance ministry.
The evaluation was carried out by eight independent evaluators consisting of ICT personnel from local IT firms and internet service providers. Evaluation took three and a half months.
Criteria for evaluation remained more or less the same as the first competition. Search engine optimisation was a new criteria added. Websites were ranked based on usability and reliability, security and privacy, electronic and mail services, citizen participation, content and aesthetics, and features like subscription, email notifications, among others.
A common trait in the webmasters of the top websites was personal initiative and working overtime.
The finance ministry’s webmaster, Yonten Jamtsho, said that web design and layout is a personal interest. He said that given a lack of initiative to maintain the ministry’s website, he had volunteered to become its webmaster. He added that he usually updated the website after office hours, unless there was urgent information that required uploading immediately.
DITT webmaster Karun Giri also said that he usually maintained the department’s website after office hours.
The agriculture ministry’s webmaster could not be reached.
The competition was started on the Prime Minister’s directive with the intention of encouraging agencies to use their websites to share information and services and therefore increase their utility for citizens. Another objective was to also ensure regular updates and enhancements are made to websites.
By Gyalsten K Dorji