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Agencies and Arm's Length Bodies - the next phase of Inside Government

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Digital strategy, GOV.UK

Last week, Pauline Ferris wrote about the process we went through to decide which central government websites are exempt from the move to GOV.UK. Today we've published this list. As Pauline said, this list will change over time. As organisations and their remits change, we'll amend the list. But what does this mean for those agencies and Arm's Length Bodies (ALBs) who aren't on the list of exempt websites?

Making the move to a single domain

As we've said in the Government Digital Strategy, the Government is improving the way it provides information by moving to a single website, GOV.UK. At the moment, we're focusing on moving departmental information across to GOV.UK.

By April 2013, all Ministerial government departments will have transitioned their corporate information publishing activities to the Inside Government section of GOV.UK. By December 2013, they will also be publishing all of their detailed guidance and technical notes on GOV.UK. We're working closely with relevant professional bodies (especially for tax and accountancy information) to make sure that detailed guidance is accessible and easy to find.

In the new year, our colleagues in government departments will be getting in touch with their non-exempt agencies and ALBs to start planning the transition of their online information publishing to GOV.UK. This next stage of transition should be complete by April 2014.

A consistent experience for users

Agencies and ALBs will still be in firm control of the information that they publish online, using a modern, federated publishing system that we've built (and open-sourced) specifically for publishing government information. Businesses and individuals, both in the UK and overseas, will know that they can find information and guidance from almost all government bodies in one place. There will be a consistent design and layout for information published by about 300 different government organisations. And even those organisations that are exempt from moving all their information onto GOV.UK, will still have a presence. Each will have a landing page, briefly setting out the role of their organisation and providing links to their own website for more detailed information.

Most interactive tools and online transactions will stay where they are on agency and ALB-managed websites - this is simply about bringing together information publishing in one place. For example, interactive tools like the Environment Agency's flood warning service will continue to be operated by the Environment Agency using their own web servers. The same applies to online transactions, such as the DVLA's tax disc service, which will continue to be operated by DVLA on their own web servers.

GOV.UK already acts as the starting point for hundreds of online tools and transactions that run on web servers operated by government departments. We're confident that the user journey will also work well for agency and ALB-hosted tools and transactions.

Simpler, clearer, faster

We've built up a lot of knowledge about how to move large and complex websites with millions of users onto GOV.UK. We know how to ensure that existing inbound links are redirected to the right place on GOV.UK. We also know that moving about 300 agencies and ALBs onto GOV.UK will have its own challenges. We'll be testing out the process with a small number of agencies to make sure we get it right before we start the transition process in earnest from April 2013.

It's going to be a big task, but the end result will be worth it - a single place for government information and a single starting point for government services online. Every department, agency and ALB will benefit from each improvement and each new feature we add to the underlying platform. And of course we will be keeping you up to date on progress here on the GDS blog.

GOV.UK Exempt Websites (PDF) (67KB)
GOV.UK Exempt Websites (XLS) (40KB)

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  1. Comment by Welcoming DECC to Inside Government | Government Digital Service posted on

    [...] These three are the latest government organisations to transition to GOV.UK as part of a process which will see around 300 departments and agencies joining the site by April 2014. [...]

  2. Comment by Tina Hulbert posted on

    Etienne - this is an interesting read and useful update for those of us in ALB's. I am particularly interested in your comment 'We’ll be testing out the process with a small number of agencies to make sure we get it right before we start the transition process in earnest from April 2013'. As the Project Manager at the Environment Agency working on our move to GOV.UK I would be very interested in being one of the organisations to do some testing with you. We have been trying for a number of months to get a meeting with GDS to discuss how this will work in more detail as we have lots of questions! Also, some specifics about how our flood warnings online will work given the high profile of this critical service and our website particularly over the last few weeks. Any insight would be welcome.

    • Replies to Tina Hulbert>

      Comment by ejhp posted on

      Hi Tina

      We've had some discussions already with some of your colleagues, but until now we've been pretty focused on the Directgov, BusinessLink and departmental websites moving to GOV.UK. We'll be in touch soon to talk about the EA and how we can make the transition of information publishing to GOV.UK work seamlessly for all your users.


      • Replies to ejhp>

        Comment by Tina Hulbert posted on

        Hi Etienne

        Thanks for your reply. I appreciate things are very busy. Any insights to help us prepare for our transition to GOV.UK would be helpful, do you have a date when you will be able to talk to us? We have developed our business case and project plan based on what we know but there are still some areas that require clarity. We are working with Defra and our other ALB colleagues to capture questions for GDS as most of them are generic across our family. I expect these questions have already been asked by other departmental bodies. We would really value some time to go through these with you as this will considerably help our thinking and planning.

        Kind Regards.

  3. Comment by Karl Wilding posted on

    Hi Folks
    I Can't see on the exempt list. Does that mean it will no longer be an independent site? Apologies for the new boy question...but if it does change it will be a big transition we'll need to think through.
    Karl Wilding

    • Replies to Karl Wilding>

      Comment by Etienne Pollard posted on

      Hi Karl

      Thanks for the question re: the Charity Commission website at - you're correct that the Charity Commission's online information publishing will be moving across to GOV.UK as part of the agency and ALB transition. We'll be in touch in the new year via your parent department with more information about the transition process, but for now I hope you have a good Christmas and New Year!

      Etienne Pollard
      GOV.UK Programme Director

  4. Comment by dmossesq posted on

    1. The Contracts Finder service still appears on It's not on the exempt list. Business Link is supposed to have been entirely subsumed under GOV.UK by now. Is the intention to drop Contracts Finder?

    2. A midata future: 10 ways it could shape your choices used to appear on no longer exists. The content is meant to appear now on GOV.UK. That midata document doesn't appear on GOV.UK. Is that deliberate? If so, what is the reason? If not, how many other documents have mistakenly disappeared?

  5. Comment by Tim Blackwell posted on

    "Today we’ve published this list. "

    Thanks for putting this list up. Very useful. Noteworthy that is exempt.

    "By December 2013, they will also be publishing all of their detailed guidance and technical notes on GOV.UK. "

    In the interim, will there be clear site maps for those elements not yet transferred? Eg DWP would need links to the blue volumes (consolidated legislation), the decision maker's guide, housing benefit circulars, bulletins, etc,etc.

    Once the transfer is complete, I hope that .GOV continues to present these items ordered by category, issue date etc, rather than trying to squish them under the generic document structure. A great deal risks being lost through decontextualisation.

    • Replies to Tim Blackwell>

      Comment by Etienne Pollard posted on

      Hi Tim

      Good points, and we agree that context is important - the Inside Government publishing platform gives departmental users plenty of control over things like ordering of publication lists. More on this in the new year.

      Etienne Pollard
      GOV.UK Programme Director

  6. Comment by Shelley HOLLINGSWORTH [7305] posted on

    So how do we obtain a password?

    • Replies to Shelley HOLLINGSWORTH [7305]>

      Comment by nettienwilliams posted on

      Hi Shelley. We were having WordPress problems with page preview. We tried various fixes and that caused the password protected page to go live early. Fixed now but apologies for any inconvenience.