Reblogged from Legal Web Watch January 2015
Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox, first mooted the idea of a single government website back in 2010. Some thought the theory was sound but that delivery would be impossible.
Once the project was approved, the process of transitioning government information to GOV.UK began in 2012, led by the Government Digital Service, a new team within the Cabinet Office tasked with transforming government digital services … aka Digital by Default. The aim was to move all corporate information to GOV.UK by the end of 2014. This is now complete with the transition of 312 organisations (so they say).
According to the Departments home page, the corporate websites of 176 government departments, agencies and other public bodies (not 312) have moved:
- 24 of 24 ministerial departments
- 9 of 22 non-ministerial departments, and
- 143 of 346 agencies and other public bodies
The 216 organisations shown as having a separate website have not moved.
Is all this government stuff in one place, designed to be “simpler, clearer, faster”, a Good Thing or “some kind of Orwellian nightmare”?
Opinions are divided. Joe Public may be better served, but anecdotal evidence suggests that professional users are not impressed, regarding the interface as dumbed down and asking, “Where has all that useful government information gone?”.
Writing on the BIALL LinkedIn Group, Anneli Sarkanen, senior information officer at Fieldfisher asks:
We’ve heard from members that finding information from the government has become increasingly harder since departments have moved to GOV.uk. I am posting this discussion to seek views from members about problems they have faced with GOV.uk and if BIALL needs to make a representation on behalf of members. If you have specific examples of information going missing, or info that is harder to find that we can put forward, please do reply below and we can see if we need to take this forward.
Ask to join the group if you are interested in following this discussion.
Corporate information vs. specialist information
It is worth bearing in mind that whilst GDS claims the transition of the websites of these 176 organisations is complete, this relates only to their “corporate” information – the information about their policies, activities, consultations, white papers etc. What is still in transition is their specialist information (which is perhaps most relevant to the professional user) and their specialist web services (apps if you like) which will ultimately be rewritten.
So, by way of illustration:
- MOJ has moved to GOV.UK though much still remains on the Justice website.
- HM Courts and Tribunals Service (an executive agency of MOJ) has moved to GOV.UK but specialist information like the Civil Procedure Rules is still on the Justice website and the Formfinder service still operates from hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk.
- CPS is not moving.
- Land Registry and HMRC have both moved, but again much specialist information is still in transition.
Don’t worry too much about whether you will find this or that on the old .gov site or on GOV.UK. Google is still your best friend here: use it. GOV.UK is well optimised, so if information has moved to GOV.UK it will show up at the top of the results.
Of course, in the move to GOV.UK, some information will have gone missing. But rather than bemoan the fact and despair, my suggestion is follow the GDS Transition Blog, identify the most relevant contact in the GDS team, find them on Twitter and tweet them.