Press release

First departmental websites migrate to GOV.UK

The next phase in establishing a single government domain has begun as the first two departments move to GOV.UK.

15 November 2012

Just one month after the successful launch of GOV.UK, the next phase in establishing a single domain for all government services and information has begun with the first two departmental websites moving their corporate and policy information to GOV.UK.

The home pages of the Department for Transport and the Department for Communities and Local Government, and of three associated agencies and bodies - the Driving Standards Agency, the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC), and the Planning Inspectorate - are now available on GOV.UK. During the next 18 months, hundreds more government websites are set to follow. Over time, this move, alongside the savings from closing the Directgov and Business Link sites, is expected to save the taxpayer at least £50m annually.

When this phase is complete, for the first time, users will be able to find out what is happening inside government in one place and in a clear, consistent and transparent format. Government policy, announcements, publications, speeches and other corporate information will all be presented; and users will be able to search by topic and organisation.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said:

The driving principle behind GOV.UK is that it should meet the needs of users and what they want to do, and not how government wants them to do it. It is a simpler, clearer and faster way for people to find government services and information online. Having launched GOV.UK, we are pushing ahead with moving departmental corporate and policy information on to the single domain, making this information both easier to access and more open, and saving millions of pounds for the taxpayer.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood said:

GOV.UK will allow people to find definitive information about what the government is doing in one place. Presenting policy information in this way will help the civil service to become more open in the way it works as set out in the Civil Service Reform Plan. It will become much easier for civil servants to understand the wider context when they are developing and implementing policy and for the public to access the information they need.

Mike Bracken, Executive Director, Government Digital Service, said:

The government’s approach to transparency has been very clear in the field of open data. Presenting policy in a clear and succinct way - as we are doing with this latest iteration of GOV.UK - will, I hope, contribute to those efforts. People often regard open data as being the core component of a transparent government, but clear content is equally vital if citizens are to have the information that they need both from an information and participatory point of view. We look forward to getting feedback on this latest iteration of GOV.UK.

“Currently, to find out what the government is doing about an issue, users need to know which departments are involved and trawl their separate websites to find the information.

“From today, those departments and agencies that move to GOV.UK will publish their policies according to the outcome the government is trying to achieve. For example:

  • making transport safer
  • reducing carbon emissions from transport
  • increasing the number of available homes.

“And for each policy, there will be a clear overview and details of related activity, providing clear information about:

  • the issue - why the government has developed this policy;
  • the actions - what specific things the government is doing;
  • the background - essential contextual information about the policy.

Notes to editors

  1. On 17 October, GOV.UK replaced the Directgov and Business Link sites. It is a simpler, clearer and faster way for people to get what they need from government online.

  2. The Inside Government section of GOV.UK goes live at 8.30 a.m. on Thursday 15 November.

  3. The closure of the Directgov and Business Link websites was 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 handful of agencies/non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) by March 2013, and then of the remaining agencies/NDPBs by March 2014.

  4. Martha Lane Fox’s report on the government’s digital estate can be viewed at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/directgov-2010-and-beyond-revolution-not-evolution

  5. The Government Digital Service (GDS) was set up within the Cabinet Office to deliver world-class digital products that meet people’s needs and offer better value for taxpayers’ money. For more information about GDS, visit http://digital.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/

  6. The Civil Service Reform Plan can be found at www.civilservice.gov.uk/reform.

How government policies will be presented

On GOV.UK there will be in the region of 250 to 300 policies, split into about 40 topics (each of which will cover between two and 10 policies). Examples of topics include: climate change, government efficiency and transparency, and transport. The policies will be presented consistently and clearly. Users will be able to find policies listed by department or topic. They will also be able to find the policy they are looking for by searching for key words.

The policy content is drawn from sources such as departmental business plans, Ministerial statements and existing web content. The text is drafted by departments and cleared internally with their communications and policy leads, with guidance and editorial input from GDS to ensure a clear and consistent style across all policies.

Where more than one department is involved in a policy, GDS is bringing the relevant departments together to collaborate and produce a single government policy page on the issue. The policy page will include a list of all the associated departments, and the policy will appear on each department’s homepage on GOV.UK.

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