Released on 17 October 2012, GOV.UK is the new online home of government services and information. This is the first phase in the creation of a single platform for government, addressing the needs of users previously served by the Directgov and Business Link websites.
The release of GOV.UK is a key element in the Government's Digital by Default agenda, which was instigated by Martha Lane Fox's ‘Revolution, not Evolution’ report and endorsed by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.
Digital by Default aims to transform public services online, making them better and cheaper for taxpayers and more effective and efficient for government. This approach was reaffirmed by commitments in the Civil Service Reform Plan, published in June 2012. The Plan set out a series of practical action, which will help make central government smaller, faster, more unified, more accountable for delivery, more commercially capable and more digital.
Francis Maude said that creating GOV.UK has required a step-change in the way government presents services and information online. He added that “GOV.UK is focused on the needs of users, not the needs of government. It has been planned, written, organised and designed around what users need to get done, not around the ways government want them to do it – providing only the content they need and nothing superfluous. Not only is the result simpler, clearer and faster for users, it will also cost taxpayers up to £70 million (approx. €86 million) less per year than the services it replaces. We anticipate further substantial savings as more departments and agencies move on to the GOV.UK platform.”
He also said: "In the way it has been built – and will continue to be updated and improved on the basis of experience and user feedback – GOV.UK is an example of how the Civil Service should keep continuously changing and improving and remain focused on outcomes. The public wants services to be delivered better, and with GOV.UK we are responding with a digital platform that makes services quicker and easier to use, and produces efficiencies for government."
GOV.UK has been built and tested in public, so that feedback from real users could be gathered and fed into successive improvements. This is in stark contrast to how large government IT projects have been delivered in the past. The agile, iterative approach means that the site can rapidly accommodate new standards for development and security, catering to emerging technology platforms and user requirements. These techniques have been shown to be more effective at delivering large-scale projects for the web, in the same way that world-class services are built and maintained.
GOV.UK has also been built using open source technology, which means that government will not have to pay expensive software licensing costs.
The closure of the Directgov and Business Link websites is the first stage in an orderly three-stage transition to consolidate all government websites on to a single domain. The second and third stages involve the transition of 24 government departments and a handful of agencies/non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) by March 2013, and then of the remaining agencies/NDPBs by March 2014.
Note: Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0