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Fate of Directgov in doubt

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Among other things the Cabinet Office would like to see are the following commitments to the strategy from government:

  • Reduce the cost of using data centres – servers which store, process and transact government-held information – by 35 per cent over five years – cutting their carbon footprint.
  • Move away from big bang solutions delivered by the same large suppliers to a greater number of smaller and agile projects.
  • Publish details of government contracts and reduce bureaucracy and costs, so that new providers and SMEs have the opportunity to win government ICT contracts.
  • Share and reuse ICT solutions and services – via a common ICT infrastructure, an ICT asset register and a fully online Applications Store – to enable the reuse of business applications and components across the public sector.
  • Enable interoperable ICT by using common and open standards, creating cross-government standards on Application Program Interfaces and developing a quality assurance "kite mark" – helping to open up new innovative services from a diverse range of providers.

Elsewhere, UK.gov reaffirmed the "level playing field" mantra championed but not yet delivered by the current incumbents of Whitehall. The same commitment was put forward by the previous occupant of Number 10, Gordon Brown, who equally failed to pony up any real-world proof that open-istas could compete with big name IT firms on government contracts.

Similarly, in March 2010, the then prime minister announced plans to create a personalised web page for every UK citizen to access all public services online in a single location, which was in fact the original plan for Directgov.

But Brown's “Mygov” centralised dashboard, which was supposed to help save money by cutting face-to-face services, never saw the light of day.

Likewise, this government echoed the commitment of the previous one on bringing social media into the public announcement fold by using it "as a mainstream channel".

It's unclear what Maude's announcement means for the future of Directgov, which began life in 2004 as a central portal for British citizens to access public government information.

In November last year, Jayne Nickalls left her £95,000 per annum job as Directgov's CEO just days before Fox's strategic review of the government's website was published. ®

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