Sunsetting the British Web Empire

From empire to dissolution to the Dr. Who franchise, there's little America has done that the English haven't done first.

So too, it seems, with an unstoppable proliferation of government websites.

Federal Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients sent a memo to executive department and agency heads Monday bemoaning the government's "nearly 2,000 top-level Federal .gov domains" and ordering a 90-day freeze on any new sites while the General Services Administration updates its website policies.

That same day, the White House blog asked for citizen feedback on a website austerity initiative and, in a webcast, President Obama mocked the government-sponsored Fiddlin' Foresters site -- devoted to a group of U.S. Forest Service officers and volunteers who sing about forest fire prevention and other topics.

The Foresters' site was taken down later that day, presumably only the first of many government sites to get the ax.

The English began whingeing about having too many government websites back before 2002, though, and by 2008 the House of Commons' Committee on Public Accounts had sussed out a solution, pledging to close down nearly 1,000 of an estimated 2,500 government sites.

The English plan doesn't distinguish between domains, websites and sub-sites, so it's not clear which government actually has more unique government websites.