You may be familiar with GOV.UK, the single government website. It’s now had over 1.2 billion visits. But it actually hasn’t been around very long, and it has only just now completed its initial development. At the end of December 2014, the last of 312 websites from departments, agencies and other public bodies transitioned to GOV.UK.
There are exceptions to the single government website, of course, and a small number of sites went through a lengthy process back in 2012 to establish why they shouldn’t move to GOV.UK.
The development of the GOV.UK website has been a massive achievement by people right across government, and many staff in Defra Network have played their part. At the outset in 2012, many thought it simply couldn’t be done. Well it certainly hasn't been smooth sailing, and it's fair to say that there have been some significant hurdles on the way. But it shows what we can be collectively achieve when we unite around a shared goal (with strong pressure and support from the central GOV.UK team, of course!).
So what’s the point of it all? To deliver “simpler, clearer and faster” information for web users. Working in concert with Defra’s Smarter Guidance Programme, our transition to GOV.UK achieved a significant reduction in the volume of information we publish. That which remains has been reviewed to make sure it meets a clearly identified ‘need’ from our users and is easy to understand.
Naturally there is more to do. We will be expected to carry on reviewing and improving our information in the light of evidence of how people use it and feedback they provide. Which is undoubtedly what we should be doing anyway.
And the success of the GOV.UK programme highlights the likely way forward for other cross-government initiatives – so expect more challenging deadlines, ambitious targets, and firm control from the centre. Whatever the outcome of the election!