As of this moment, 10 Downing Street, the Deputy PM’s office, all 24 of the UK’s central government departments and its embassies around the world are now sharing a single, joined-up presence on the web at www.gov.uk/government.
Today marks the end of a 6-month transition led by GDS and involving many talented digital teams, policy experts, project managers and content editors across Whitehall to merge these 26 domains (and a few more besides) into one. Together, we have published over 50,000 pages of web content, weeded out 116,000 pages and files, and redirected 275,000 URLs from old sites to their new home on GOV.UK.
It was a herculean task, and everyone who has worked on it deserves to feel immensely proud of themselves.
As well as reaching the end of that journey, today is the beginning of a new era in the relationship between government and the public.
If we’ve done our job right, most people won’t notice quite how big a change has just occurred. But those of us who are close to the project know just how profound it is.
From now on, citizens (and the professionals and intermediaries who operate between them and the state) can easily see the entirety of what this and any future government is doing, on all issues at home and around the world, in one place and in consistent, structured, easily comprehensible formats. Some of the content is also available in one or more other languages (49 languages in total).
Users can see when things change, and precisely what has been changed, in the form of a note that we make visible on the page.
They can get alerted by feed or email when anything is newly published or updated about any of the things they care about, and find all government consultations and other ways to get involved listed in one place.
In these ways and more, the Inside Government section of GOV.UK will bring greater levels of transparency about what government is doing.
And this change is something departments have willingly done. The site and its content have been built by civil servants in GDS and departments, reforming the civil service from within, disrupting old models and assumptions, and forging new collaborative ways of working in the interests of better meeting citizens’ needs.
That, after all, is what we are here for, not just in GDS but in the civil service as a whole.
Another journey begins
While we celebrate the major milestone of bringing all the ministerial departments onto GOV.UK, we’re acutely aware of how much there is left to do.
Central government in the UK is made up of much more than 24 ministerial departments. There are over 300 other agencies and public bodies, some of whom are bigger than their parent departments in size and scope. 29 have already moved across, including corporate content from HMRC.
We are due to kick off the next wave of transition which will see most of the rest of these organisations make GOV.UK their new home between now and summer 2014, as well as bringing across the remaining detailed guidance content on some of the departments’ sites.
But before we really get going with the next stage, we’ll be taking stock, making sure we’ve learned as much as we can from the first phase of the project and refining our approach. We’ll also be looking at the evidence and user feedback to help us plan what we need to develop next.
GOV.UK remains a work in progress, and there is plenty of room for improvement. We’ll continue iterating, and our focus right now is on improving the site search.
The story so far in numbers
- GOV.UK is now the main home on the web for No 10 and DPM, 24 ministerial departments, HMRC and 28 agencies and other public bodies
- 50,000 documents have been published
- 222 subdomains have been closed
- 2,250 user stories have been delivered
- 223 policies have been written to a new, clear style
- 5.8 million people have visited Inside Government pages, making 29 million page views