U.K. streamlines e-gov access

UK Transformational Government report

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As part of a six-year program aimed at transforming how it delivers services online, the British government plans to greatly reduce the number of government Web sites and to broadly expand information sharing between departments.

Of the 951 Web sites, hosted by 16 departments, reviewed so far, U.K. officials have decided to close 551 and to keep only 26. They will decide the future of the remaining 374 by June.

Pat McFadden, the U.K. minister for transformational government, said the aim is to concentrate most government content either in the DirectGov or the BusinessLink Web sites, with only a small number of other tailored sites.

The government responded to the growth of the Internet with a proliferation of Web sites that offered a wide range of information and services, McFadden said Jan. 10 in announcing the government’s first annual report on its Transformational Government strategy.

However, “the Google Generation, empowered by technology, has a completely different set of expectations about services compared to previous generations,” he said.

A core part of the government’s strategy is the expansion of sharing online services across departments to save on the overhead costs of delivering those services.

One site the government holds out as an example of this common infrastructure model is Government Gateway, where users can sign up for any government services that are provided online. Some nine million users have registered to access more than 100 services.

Also, the government’s Chief Technical Officer Council has published the first release of a cross-government enterprise architecture that defines the issues involved in increasing information sharing among departments. A full information sharing strategy is expected by summer 2007.

Government chief information officers are also working with the Office of Government Commerce to create a more reliable process for delivering IT projects. This includes improving the oversight of programs through the extensive use of portfolio management both in departments and across the government.

That effort follows a push launched several years ago to increase the level of IT professionalism in government. Since July 2005, more than 7,000 people have joined the Government IT Profession program, which seeks to raise them to the same level as advisers on policy, legal and economic matters.

Meanwhile, chief information officers have been elevated to board-level positions in their departments.

Highly experienced, top-flight staff from public and private sector backgrounds are working together to help manage government projects involving millions of transactions a week, McFadden said.

“Theirs is a challenging and complex job and it is incumbent on us to ensure they are professionally led and managed,” he said.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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