Agencies and Arm’s Length Bodies – the next phase of Inside Government
Last week, Pauline Ferris wrote about the process we went through to decide which central government websites are exempt from the move to GOV.UK. Today we’ve published this list. As Pauline said, this list will change over time. As organisations and their remits change, we’ll amend the list. But what does this mean for those agencies and Arm’s Length Bodies (ALBs) who aren’t on the list of exempt websites?
Making the move to a single domain
As we’ve said in the Government Digital Strategy, the Government is improving the way it provides information by moving to a single website, GOV.UK. At the moment, we’re focusing on moving departmental information across to GOV.UK.
By April 2013, all Ministerial government departments will have transitioned their corporate information publishing activities to the Inside Government section of GOV.UK. By December 2013, they will also be publishing all of their detailed guidance and technical notes on GOV.UK. We’re working closely with relevant professional bodies (especially for tax and accountancy information) to make sure that detailed guidance is accessible and easy to find.
In the new year, our colleagues in government departments will be getting in touch with their non-exempt agencies and ALBs to start planning the transition of their online information publishing to GOV.UK. This next stage of transition should be complete by April 2014.
A consistent experience for users
Agencies and ALBs will still be in firm control of the information that they publish online, using a modern, federated publishing system that we’ve built (and open-sourced) specifically for publishing government information. Businesses and individuals, both in the UK and overseas, will know that they can find information and guidance from almost all government bodies in one place. There will be a consistent design and layout for information published by about 300 different government organisations. And even those organisations that are exempt from moving all their information onto GOV.UK, will still have a presence. Each will have a landing page, briefly setting out the role of their organisation and providing links to their own website for more detailed information.
Most interactive tools and online transactions will stay where they are on agency and ALB-managed websites – this is simply about bringing together information publishing in one place. For example, interactive tools like the Environment Agency’s flood warning service will continue to be operated by the Environment Agency using their own web servers. The same applies to online transactions, such as the DVLA’s tax disc service, which will continue to be operated by DVLA on their own web servers.
GOV.UK already acts as the starting point for hundreds of online tools and transactions that run on web servers operated by government departments. We’re confident that the user journey will also work well for agency and ALB-hosted tools and transactions.
Simpler, clearer, faster
We’ve built up a lot of knowledge about how to move large and complex websites with millions of users onto GOV.UK. We know how to ensure that existing inbound links are redirected to the right place on GOV.UK. We also know that moving about 300 agencies and ALBs onto GOV.UK will have its own challenges. We’ll be testing out the process with a small number of agencies to make sure we get it right before we start the transition process in earnest from April 2013.
It’s going to be a big task, but the end result will be worth it – a single place for government information and a single starting point for government services online. Every department, agency and ALB will benefit from each improvement and each new feature we add to the underlying platform. And of course we will be keeping you up to date on progress here on the GDS blog.