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  1. Service manual
  2. Service assessments and getting on GOV.UK
  3. What happens at a service assessment

You may need to book a service assessment to check your service meets the Service Standard. You can check if you need an assessment if you’re not sure.

The assessment will be run by a panel of experts from either GDS or your departmental assessment team. Panels are normally made up of 4 or 5 assessors, including a lead assessor, a user researcher, a designer and a technical lead. There might also be one or 2 observers, but they won’t ask questions.

Assessments usually last about 4 hours.

At the assessment, you’ll usually need to:

  • give a brief overview of the service - this should take between 5 and 15 minutes
  • demonstrate the service by walking the panel through the end-to-end journey - you should spend between 20 and 45 minutes on this
  • answer questions from the panel, demonstrating how the service meets the Service Standard - this should take between 2 and 3 hours

Some departments run internal assessments slightly differently. Check with your department’s assessment lead to find out exactly what will happen at the session.

You’ll have 30 minutes before the assessment to set up equipment, or get the room ready. Your digital engagement manager will help you with this.

You can bring user journey maps or anything that will help you demonstrate your work to the assessment. You’ll need to bring your own food and drink with you.

Getting your result

Your service will be assessed as ‘met’ or ‘not met’.

You’ll get a report containing your result and any recommendations within 3 working days of a GDS assessment. If your service is being assessed by your department, ask the assessment team when you’ll get your result.

What happens next depends on the result of the assessment, and the development phase your service is in.

If your service meets the standard

If you pass an alpha assessment, you can start writing your code in production and recruiting users to use your private beta.

If you pass a beta assessment, you’ll be able to get a link to your service from GOV.UK.

You can remove any beta branding when you pass a live assessment.

If your service doesn’t meet the standard

You’ll need to arrange a reassessment, and your service won’t go live on GOV.UK.

You’ll get a report explaining what you need to improve to pass the reassessment. Book the reassessment once you’re confident you’ve addressed the recommendations in the report.

Assessment reports

GDS will publish your assessment report on the GOV.UK Service Standard Reports page. You’ll have the chance to fact check it before it’s published.

Examples and case studies

Read the Department for Work and Pensions’ blog post on what the Secure Communications team learned from their alpha assessment.

You may also find the following guides useful:

Published by:
Standards and assurance community
Last update:

Clarified guidance on what happens at a service assessment.

  1. Updated the address for GDS assessments to The White Chapel Building.

  2. Added link to 'How your assisted digital support will be assessed'.

  3. Guidance first published