While you tuck into your toffee apple and enjoy the fireworks this evening, make sure you save a few oohs and aahs for us. In ten days’ time, on November 15, the first two government departments will move their corporate publishing onto the Inside Government section of GOV.UK, bringing this currently hidden part of the site out of beta and into live use.
Ahead of that, here’s a reminder of what this bit of the GOV.UK project is all about.
What are we doing?
Central government in the UK is made up of nearly 400 organisations, each of which continually publishes information to the web about who they are and what they are doing. That’s things like policy, publications and announcements, spread across hundreds of separate websites.
With a few exceptions (more on that in a later post), we’re bringing all of this corporate publishing activity into a new, single place. On GOV.UK, the name of that that place is Inside Government.
It’s a significant transition programme involving people both here at GDS and in each of these organisations, and we’re doing it in batches. Two departments will join in mid-November, and we’ll be bringing more organisations into the site each month.
As with the replacement of Directgov and Business Link websites a month ago, users will experience an orderly transition, and all existing web addresses will be redirected.
What is Inside Government?
It’s the area where anyone with an interest can go to explore how government works and what it is doing. It contains policy, announcements and publications, grouped by topics and organisations. As such, it’s set slightly apart from the mainstream services and information that went live on 17 October, in a self-contained area of the site with its own navigation and more information-rich content formats. You'll be able to find it at www.gov.uk/government.
Inside Government makes it simpler, clearer and faster to find out:
- How government works
- What the government is doing
- How you can get involved
Like the 7/8ths of an iceberg below the sea level, it is going to be far the bigger part of GOV.UK. To the majority of its users - the regular and frequent consumers of central government information - it’s the part that they need and will use the most.
Those users are:
- Government itself (staff in around 400 central government bodies and more than 400 local authorities, plus the devolved UK administrations and foreign governments)
- Policy stakeholders (civil society, academia, industry, campaigners, lobbyists, service providers and all other kinds of intermediaries between citizens and the state)
- Engaged citizens (you, me and anyone with an interest in a specific issue or the workings of government as a whole)
Why should you care?
Because, for the first time ever, there will be a complete list of everything the government is doing, and you won’t need to know which bit of government is responsible for what in order to find out what the government is doing on any given subject. All government policy, announcements and publications will be in one place, grouped by topics as well as by the organisations which produced them.
And, for the first time ever, there will be a comprehensive list of all central government organisations with a short, easy to understand summary of what they do.
Plus, also for the first time ever, government bodies will be sharing a single, cost-effective technology platform which can be adapted quickly by developers working within government to meet changing user needs, rather than spending millions of pounds with hundreds of suppliers on lots of less adaptable versions of the same thing.
These things take time
What you’ll see on 15 November is just the beginning. With just two departments live, we will still have a long way to go. But you will definitely see where we’re heading, and the start of a revolution in the way people perceive and experience central government.