Departmental websites: gone by Xmas?

My attention has been drawn to the commitment on page 42 of yesterday’s Budget 2012 document.

from 2014, new online services will only go live if the responsible minister can demonstrate that they themselves can use the service successfully

It’s so simple, it’s brilliant. And quite funny too.

But don’t overlook the non-highlighted bit which follows. It’s a commitment, the first I’m explicitly aware of, that:

all information is [to be] published on a single ’gov.uk’ domain name by the end of 2012

In other words, the Single Domain will at least be ‘dual running’ with all departmental websites within 9 months. But it’s surely more likely, given that efficiency is a key selling point of the Single Domain strategy, that we’ll see all departmental websites closed by then. There was no deadline mentioned in the Martha Lane Fox report of November 2010, or in last October’s ICT Implementation Plan.

Update: blogging on the GDS’s WordPress.com-based site, Mike Bracken adds some clarification:

We’re working with colleagues across Government to get all information for citizens and businesses (what’s currently covered by Directgov and Businesslink) published on GOV.UK by the end of this year and this gives us the hurry up. We’re also working towards migrating Departmental sites onto ‘Inside Government’ but that will take a little longer, with a more gradual transition as current contracting arrangements for individual Departments come to an end.

7 thoughts on “Departmental websites: gone by Xmas?

  1. Good spot. The key deadline is the end of the contract with Steria for direct.gov (and half a dozen other websites). By then, whatever http://www.gov.uk is, it must be enough to replace direct.gov and 30m visitors a month of traffic. With 9 months to go, .gov.uk still running on AWS (on someone’s credit card still I imagine) and all of the content to populate that is *already* in direct.gov let alone that is on other departmental websites, and then new content to deal with e.g. for all the changes that come from universal credits, let me be the first to wish the team a lot of luck. They will need it.

  2. I’ve had a lot of retweets for this post; not sure whether it’s the ‘ministerial user testing’ or the Christmas deadline that’s attracting people’s attention.

    The former, I think, is a bit of a joke. The only way I can see it having any effect is as a bear-trap; you can imagine some smart-alec journalist sitting a Minister down in front of a new web app, and saying ‘go on then, show us how easy it is to use’. Said Minister had better be able to make it work.

    For me, the latter is much more significant. Thanks, Alan, for the clarification re dates etc.

    1. Interestingly, we had this plan in 2000 when I worked with the team who put Self Assessment online. We came unstuck though because at the time (I have no idea if it still the case), “celebrities” (including MPs) were processed on a separate system and so their tax records were not held in the one that we were (in effect) connecting to the Internet. This was to reduce the number of staff who had access to those details.

      Later, around end 2000, we had Ian McCartney (then minister for the cabinet office) complete a VAT return on an iPaq with a 3G card. Hate to keep saying it, but been there, tried that. got the scars, in some cases, still.

  3. Please can I dispel one myth once and for all, the hosting of GOV.UK is NOT paid for by credit card

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