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United Kingdom

GOV.UK (UK0074)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: United Kingdom – Third National Action Plan 2016-18

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Cabinet Office (Government Digital Service)

Support Institution(s): Cabinet Office (Government Digital Service); Democratic Society, Involve, Natural Resource Governance Institute, The Open Data Institute

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: United Kingdom End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, United Kingdom Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Objective: Use GOV.UK to help all of government become more participative, open and accountable to its users.

Status quo: Centralising all government web publishing to GOV.UK has already radically improved access to information and public accountability. Information including departmental plans, transparency data and public consultations is now more consistently presented and easier to find in a single place. But there is enormous potential to do more. The vision for GOV.UK over the next two parliaments is to make government work for users - using the opportunity of a single shared platform to increase openness, accountability and civic participation right across government.

Ambition: While GOV.UK has become the best place to find government services and information, it’s not yet the best place it can be. GOV.UK has brought government web presences together and we now need to ensure that it really does work for all users and this means, among many other things, ensuring that government is participative, open and accountable.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

12. GOV.UK

Commitment text:Assess opportunities for digital consultation tools, rebuild navigation to bring guidance and policy together by topic, provide APIs for government content and provide a full version history of every published page.

Objective:Use GOV.UK to help all of government become more participative, open and accountable to its users.

Status quo:Centralising all government web publishing to GOV.UK has already radically improved access to information and public accountability. Information including departmental plans, transparency data and public consultations is now more consistently presented and easier to find in a single place.

But there is enormous potential to do more. The vision for GOV.UK over the next two parliaments is to make government work for users - using the opportunity of a single shared platform to increase openness, accountability and civic participation right across government.

Ambition:While GOV.UK has become the best place to find government services and information, it's not yet the best place it can be. GOV.UK has brought government web presences together and we now need to ensure that it really does work for all users and this means, among many other things, ensuring that government is participative, open and accountable.

Milestones:

1. Complete a discovery project to identify opportunities for improved digital consultation tools, identifying next steps (May 2016 September 2016)

2. Improve tagging, navigation, search and notification systems on GOV.UK, so publishers can begin to join together related content (including both guidance and policy) and transactions as coherent services (2017

3. Provide APIs for government content (April 2017 March 2018)

4. Provide a full version history of every published page (April 2017 March4018)

Responsible institution: Cabinet Office (Government Digital Service)

Supporting institutions: Democratic Society, Involve, Natural Resource Governance, Institute, The Open Data Institute

Start date: May 2016

End date: March 2018

Commitment Aim:

Launched in 2012, GOV.UK is the platform for the websites of all government departments and many other agencies and public bodies.[Note 121: Gov.uk, ‘Welcome to GOV.UK', https://www.gov.uk/. The website won design of the year in 2013: The Guardian, ‘'Direct and well-mannered' government website named design of the year',

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/apr/16/government-website-design-of-year ] The commitment aimed to improve the existing platform to make it more ‘participative, open and accountable', by improving navigation, publishing full histories on sites and providing Application Programming Interfaces (API) for content (making it easier for developers to use the data to build applications).

Status

Midterm: Substantial

The implementation process has engaged users through set workshops, publicity via blogs, a short survey and informal encouragement that users get in touch.[Note 122: Blog update, especially the section on the improvements to the ‘common user journey', https://insidegovuk.blog.gov.uk/2017/10/16/what-we-delivered-in-the-first-3-months-of-our-new-roadmap/; and asking the public for ideas on the AP update, https://insidegovuk.blog.gov.uk/2017/09/11/a-public-api-for-gov-uk-content-inviting-expressions-of-interest/] According to the July 2017 update, milestones 1 and 2 were complete.[Note 123: Cabinet Office, Open Government National Action Plan 2016-18: July 2017 Commitment Progress Updates (commitment update for July 2017), pre-publication passed to author. ]

The team has worked to make data both easier to publish internally and easier to find externally, through a series of workshops and continuous engagement with users.[Note 124: Blog update, especially this section on the improvements to the ‘common user journey'. https://insidegovuk.blog.gov.uk/2017/10/16/what-we-delivered-in-the-first-3-months-of-our-new-roadmap/] This includes the development of a new design for the homepage making it easier to publish and label data and creating personalised reminders for those working on the site to take particular actions. The work on APIs is under way and the team has finished a ‘discovery' into full history publication.[Note 125: Data Blog, ‘8 things I learned about data discoveries', https://data.blog.gov.uk/2017/01/09/8-things-i-learned-about-data-discoveries/ ] CSOs said that there had been less progress and, where progress was made, it was not well communicated. Some organisations expressed concern that certain milestones were pushed further into the future.[Note 126: Interview with Michelle Brook, Democratic Society, 22 September 2017.]

End of term: Complete

In April 2018 GOV.UK launched its new public API, the final part of the commitment left incomplete from the midterm report. The API was designed in an open and public way (so anyone interested could see the entire process by which it was created) and drew on the needs of users that were gathered from the blog as it went along.[Note 127: Inside.Gov (2018), What we learnt from creating API documentation, https://insidegovuk.blog.gov.uk/2018/04/04/what-we-learnt-from-creating-api-documentation] The team behind it explained that this was a public API meaning others could publish and republish data more easily.[Note 128: Inside GOV.UK (2018), ‘What we learnt from creating API documentation', 4 April 2018, https://insidegovuk.blog.gov.uk/2018/04/04/what-we-learnt-from-creating-api-documentation/ ] As the work on discovery has been finished, the commitment is now complete.[Note 129: Interview with Katie Holder and Thom Townsend, DCMS, 8 August 2018.]

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Civic Participation: Marginal

Before the commitment some parts of the operation of GOV.UK (such as the API) were hard to access or not working as well as they could. Much of the work in the commitment was around infrastructure and was a continuation of the work from the previous plan. The commitment has improved access to information by making more information available and making it easier to find, use and re-use via the new API. The continual work by the GOV.UK team in engaging with users, through a series of workshops, consultations and informal contacts, was evidence of a minor increase in civic participation.

Carried Forward?

The commitment was not carried forward, though the IRM researcher recommends that innovations with GOV.UK continue in some form.


Commitments

Open Government Partnership