Well done to Richard Parsons at edemocracyblog for extracting (via FOI) the proposal submitted by Directgov to the newly created government ‘skunkworks’ for building the new government e-petitions system.
The project’s objective is ‘to allow UK citizens to submit petitions to Government, and particularly to be able to petition for parliamentary debates on any subject they chose, subject to the overall governance arrangements required by No 10 / Cabinet Office.’ With the commitment to debate any petition attracting over 100,000 signatures in Parliament, they’re expecting traffic levels to be ‘much higher’ than the Downing Street e-petitions site that went before. They’re proposing a development cost ‘upwards of £55.2k’ (at a £600 day rate, I note), and annual running costs of £86.2k for ‘light touch moderation’.
On the technical side, they’ve explicitly specified that it should be ‘developed using Open Source technologies’ – specifically a LAMP stack of Ubuntu, Apache, MySQL, and PHP – although there’s no explicit commitment that the petitions code will then be open-sourced itself. Hosting is to be ‘in the cloud’, with a passing reference to Amazon S3 and the existing (‘underused’) Cabinet Office setup.
I can’t add much to Richard’s further analysis of the document’s contents; but I will note that it’s one of the first public airings of a full-on skunkworks ‘brand’ – which doesn’t appear to credit the name ‘skunk works’ as a UK registered trademark of Lockheed Martin, only to be used with ‘prior written approval‘. Hmm.