UK Gov axeman to head flagship website

In a further tightening of Downing Street's grip on government IT, control of flagship government web site Directgov has been taken over by a member of PM David Cameron's inner sanctum, the Minister for the Cabinet Office.

A brief statement released this morning outlines a number of key shifts in departmental responsibilities. Among them, responsibility for Directgov will shift from Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Tory veteran Francis Maude.

Directgov, the official UK government web site for citizens, gathers together details of resources for benefits and tax information, and important government news updates. The site was launched in 2004 and now receives 20 million visits a month.

It's unlikely that civil servants working on the Directgov website will welcome the prospect of Maude, who is also the Paymaster General, breathing down their neck.

With total running costs of more than £26 million, Directgov is the third most expensive central government website, representing more than a fifth of total government web spending.

Along with the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, the minister is co-chair of the newly-created Efficiency and Reform Group - the body charged with driving through Governmental cost cuts.

Legislation to enable the change of ministerial responsibility will follow in due course.