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eGovernment | Flagship | citizens
At the UK e-summit in November 2002, the Prime Minister stated â€œFor the public services, the real opportunity is to use technology to help create fundamental improvement in the efficiency, convenience and quality of our servicesâ€¦Our plan is not only to offer more convenient access to services but also to transform how we organise mainstream delivery (â€¦) a new relationship between citizen and state and the way we interact with each otherâ€.
The Transformational Government strategy published in 2006 sets out a six-year improvement journey for public services. The principles of Transformational Government are at the core of Sir David Varneyâ€™s review of service transformation, which the Chancellor has published as part of the analysis informing the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review: Service transformation: A better service for citizens and businesses, a better deal for the taxpayer. The Government has commissioned a delivery plan to implement the reportâ€™s findings, to be published in 2007.
Sir David Varneyâ€™s review states in 2007, that for customer information, self-service transactions and campaign support, online services should converge on Directgov for customers and Business Link for employers as the primary online entry points.
The Governmentâ€™s objective is to have strong, strategically effective communications and service delivery via the internet, designed around the needs and lifestyles of citizens. Ministers commissioned the main central government departments to review their websites and develop plans for their rationalisation and the migration of content to the Directgov website for citizens and the Business Link website for businesses.
In the first phase of departmental reviews, 951 websites were considered across 18 central government departments. Decisions have already been taken to close 551 (58 per cent) of these websites.
Citizens save time and money by using Directgov online service over alternative methods and their experience is improved as services are easy to use and all in one place. As citizens use the site, an improved and trusted relationship with government develops. Government departments and agencies achieve efficiencies enabled by Directgov by shifting traditional channels online; cross-selling information and services from different departments to the citizen; shared Infrastructure and website rationalisation.
More specifically, by sharing technical infrastructure, reducing resource, moving traditional resources online and take advantage of Directgovâ€™s marketing resource for government campaigns and information, reaching more customers through government departments and agencies save money in development and hosting of service as Directgov will be continuously developed, available and benefit from collaborative working.
Over 10 million British citizens are aware of the Directgov and visitors rate our site better than sites such as BBC, Ebay, Amazon and Tesco for being helpful and on a par with the BBC for being a trust source of information, up-to-date, comprehensive and easy to use. 79% of customers are likely to recommend the site. 84% agree that it offers â€˜useful informationâ€™ and 82% found Directgov to house a comprehensive range of services.
Whist we are still calculating the financial cost directly to government departments, which rests on accurate cost reporting on a department by department basis, conservative estimates indicate that the value to Government from Directgov driving additional take-up in electronic services and as an enabler for website rationalisation of 551 government sites would generate a significantly more substantial saving to government than our total costs.
We are now the preferred channel by citizens for many transactions, saving them time and money. Enabling many government transactions to be completed online as opposed to the usual routes of using government call centres applying by post or queuing in post offices for forms.
Increasingly we will change how society interacts with government as a whole, currently the government gateway project, enabling individuals and businesses to interact with government has issued 9 million separate user identifications. Directgov is looking at how we can use our interface to support citizens interacting with government.
We are the first and only international government to approach web rationalisation on this scale, closing 551 government sites and resurfacing that information in one place for the citizen online, through web and mobile.
Directgov regularly and proactively undertakes up skilling seminars for government communicators to share learning and help support government communicators learn from Directgov experiences in fields that may be applicable to other government work. Directgov speaks at Public Service national events.
We also present and take questions on topics such as: How do you solve the dilemma between raising brand awareness whilst promoting multiple products and services? How can Directgov help to promote campaigns?
Directgov is regularly consulted and invited by industry to represent government at innovation forums, UK web entrepreneurs meetings, changing democracy debates and national UK tradeshows.
Following Sir Davis Varneyâ€™s report, the advisor to the Chancellor, in January 2007, the recommendation that 551 public service websites close and are appropriately resurfaced on Directgov or businesslink.gov.uk attracted nationwide on and offline news coverage.
As a direct result of this public declaration we attracted interest from USA, Luxembourg, Denmark and the EU Commission government officials to share our learning on Directgov and public service information online. We held an hour teleconference with 100 top e-communicators in the US for a presentation and Q+A session, a visit from Luxembourg officials was postponed owing to changes in ministers and we hosted delegations from both Denmark and the EU Commission.
Lesson 1 - Ministerial and senior backing. It is important to have robust senior level backing and ministerial support for a project, programme or business of this size from the outset. This advice would be useful for any government or national e-comms project to take on board.
Lesson 2 - Flexibility to deliver changing departments requirements. In the planning of an initiative of this size and complexity it is important to build the facility to be extremely flexible to be proactive and reactive with changing departmental requirements. Many communication and convergence priorities are steered by individual departments changing and adapting needs which this business needs to account for.
Lesson 3 - Adequate funding. At the outset of this undertaking, ensure you have a robust and appropriate funding model. Contributory or voluntary funding from departments can lead to continual re-scoping of plans and more robust funding enables great effective planning and forecast of business development and communications.