Mike Bracken

One-stop gov mark IV: GOV.uk goes live

by Mike Bracken. Average Reading Time: about 2 minutes.

Wednesday 17 October 2012Author: Michael Cross
[original post here]

From this morning, every visitor to the www.direct.gov.uk and www.businesslink.gov.uk has been directed to www.gov.uk. Under the promise to be ‘simpler, clearer, faster’ the site is billed as the new online home of government services and information. The Cabinet Office’s Government Digital Services says GOV.uk is the first phase in the creation of a single domain for government.

GOV.uk is the fourth attempt in 20 years to create a one-stop point on the web for central government. Its predecessors were creatures of their time, ranging from a simple directory of websites open.gov.uk (1995), to the dotcom era UKOnline (2000) and the mega-project Directgov (2004).

GOV.uk is a creation of the “back to basics” e-government strategy promulgated by Martha Lane Fox’s “Revolution, not Evolution” report for the coalition and endorsed by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude.

In a statement today, Maude said that creating GOV.uk has required a step-change in the way government presents services and information online: “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 £70m 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.

Maude also presented the site as a poster child for agile government.”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 Cabinet Office says 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 number of agencies/non-departmental public bodies by March 2013, and then of “the remaining agencies/NDPBs” by March 2014.

The statement does not mention the future of the NHS or police web portals, or how local government will fit in the picture.

For an insight into the creation of GOV.uk and plans for the future, see UKauthorITy’s interview with Mike Bracken, head of the Government Digital Service, at