A recent study of 500 public sector IT managers found that almost a third (31 per cent) do not believe that the Government’s plan to roll all 750 of its websites into one central site will be successful.
Over a quarter of those who don’t think the programme will succeed believe that there is a lack of money available to invest in making a platform that is fit for purpose. A further 22 per cent believe that the logistical challenge of coordinating all the information and processes from multiple organisations and departments will prove too great.
Earlier this year, the Government Digital Service ran a two month trial of the single domain – known as AlphaGov – as a platform for testing the concept, execution and public appetite for a single website. The trial was broadly regarded as a success and the Government is now working on the second stage of the product.
It is hoped that the project will instil a ‘service culture’ in the public sector in order to put the needs of the public ahead of those of various departments.
The Government’s vision for Digital Britain, which will see a full transition to public eServices, is certainly audacious. There are huge challenges associated with implementing paperless systems – from managing and monitoring processes involving multiple organisations, as well as multiple departments within an organisation.
The key to success is manipulating the huge amounts of data by consolidating information and business process silos into shared services platforms that can deliver widely accessible, reliable, and secure Government-to-citizen services – which is the hope with moving to a unified web presence.
In addition, by reducing the number of disparate and unconnected systems it becomes much easier to secure data against intrusion attempts and accidental loss.
With the immense downward pressure that the public sector is facing on spending there is a need to make sure this project is successful and on budget. It also presents a great opportunity to consolidate all the systems monitoring and tracking the complex web of interactions across the Government’s estate, which can then provide essential insights into what issues concern citizens the most and potentially enable the Government to tailor its services to those needs.
If the Government is successful, it will be a win-win for both the Government and the public. Not only will it require less taxpayer funding, but it stands to deliver services much more effectively – leading to fewer headaches and frustrations all round.