Irish government scraps €500,000 clone website

An Irish government website that cost almost €500, 000 (£381,000) to develop is being scrapped because it was a replica of another website financed by the same department.

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An Irish government website that cost almost €500, 000 (£381,000) to develop is being scrapped because it was a replica of another website financed by the same department.

It was discovered that the reachservices.ie website was providing information already available on citizensinformation.ie, despite both being run by the same department, the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

The Reachservices.ie website was only attracting 18,000 visitors a year, while the citizensinformation.ie site was getting 2.5 million visitors.

At the Irish parliament's Public Accounts Committee yesterday (6 March), the Department of Social and Family Affairs confirmed that the four-year-old website was being shut down.

Brendan Keneally, member of the Fianna Fail party, described the duplication of websites as a "total waste".

The decision to close the site follows a highly critical report in January from the Comptroller and Auditor General, which found that it provided "very similar services" to the Citizens Information site, first established in 2001.

The report stated that the reachservices.ie website, originally intended to be a "one-stop shop" for all government services, suffered with technology problems from its core system, known as "Public Services Broker". The committee found that the cost of the Broker system had spiralled from €14 million to €37 million.

But secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach, Dermot McCarthy, defended the use of the Broker system, which will continue even after the site's closure, describing it as a "visionary concept" and a "gold standard" for projects of its type.

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