The partnership with BT will provide solutions for a fresh approach to the relationship between the citizen and government.
People will be able to customise the home page to create direct links to the services they frequently use. The system will also be able to remind people about changes in services or important dates, such as the need to renew TV Iicences or car tax. It will develop over time as new features are trialed and customer feedback is taken into account.
Minister of state at the Cabinet Office, Ian McCartney, who has responsibility for e-government said: 'The best services are driven by the needs of customers - not the
moving house, or whether they need to notify a change of circumstance to a department.
'Findings from the people's panel showed a clear demand for making some key services available outside standard working hours. We are now consulting with government departments and agencies and with local government representatives to work out the best way of meeting that demand, but there is no doubt that technology will have a big supporting role.
'The award of the contract to BT for the development of UK Online is an important first step towards building a platform, for making government accessible around the clock.'
Alex Allan, the e-Envoy added: 'We want to enable people who want to access public services through to the net to do so. This won't replace one-to-one contact with
departments for those who want or need it, but will offer consumers more choice about how and when they access the services they need. UK Online will be a key step towards our commitment to bring e-business revolution to the heart of Whitehall.'
Sir Peter Bonfield, BT's chief executive said: 'We see this as a service for which BT and HM Government share common goals and values, particularly the delivery of socially inclusive services to the citizen, and the promotion of technology for the
benefit of the community.'
1. The government portal, a gateway for the citizen to access government services, has three layers; the government systems and the data interchanges standard specifications; the government gateway which does much of the joining up of information sources and finally the interface to the citizen - UK Online. This service will provide a personalisable front end to the portal so that citizens can tailor what they see to what they need.
2. A test service will be developed by July 2000 and will be formally launched for public use after the summer holidays. A fully operational service will run from the summer of 2001.
3. The project board will be chaired by the e-envoy Alex Allan. It will include representatives of key stakeholder departments and local government to ensure that the UK Online site is developed in a way that is consistent with both existing and planned online services. The project team will be based in CITU.
4. The project, which was originally tendered under the working title of 'me.gov' has been procured under the CCTA Government Telecommunications Communications (GTC) framework contract. The procurement was conducted in two phases; a Request for proposals (RFP) was issued to all eligible contractors and from the proposals a short list of two was selected to go forward to the next stage, the Invitation to tender (ITT). This announcement is for the successful contractor of the ITT phase.
Formal evaluation processes were operated at both the RFP and the ITT phases. These processes involved user departments, local authorities, the private sector and CITU. The procurement was conducted by CCTA.
5. On 1 March, the prime minister made a commitment to ensure that everyone who wants it will have access to the Internet by 2005. Access will be in the home through a personal computer, digital TV or games console, on the move through a mobile telephone, or at a nearby public access point. Current government initiatives to increase individuals' access and skills include:
- All schools and libraries connected to the internet by 2002;
- 80% discounts on basic IT courses available from April;
- Tax breaks for companies that loan computers to employees;
- 100,000 poor families to lease or buy cheap refurbished computers;
- over 700 IT access centres to be open by next year.
6. The prime minister and members of the Cabinet agreed a new target of offering all government services online by 2005 on Thursday 30 March, at a special information age Cabinet meeting.
7. Government services currently online include:
- Companies House (online returns and searches);
- NHS Direct;
- Foreign Office advice for those travelling abroad;
- Consumer advice; and
- Comprehensive news service on the Number 10 website.
8. Other services soon to be available online include:
- Tax returns (discount for electronic filing and payment, maximum saving for a small business person is£160). People will be able to register on the Inland Revenue website from 3 April;
- Small business service, tailored advice based on company size, location and sector;
- Employment Service job vacancies will be online by the autumn (and online kiosks will be sited in job centres); and
- VAT registration, declarations and other returns to HM Customs.
9. The government recently published (3 April 2000) its e-government strategy for information age government. It applies to central government departments and agencies, local government and the NHS. It is available on the internet at
10. E-envoy Alex Allan will own the e-government strategy and identify new opportunities for cross-government IT initiatives and how they should be carried forward. The e-envoy will support the chief secretary to the Treasury and the e-minister in a 'cross-cutting' review in the 2000 spending review on the knowledge economy, which will consider the funding of electronic government.
11. The Cabinet Office's Central IT Unit will manage the government portal and promote policies on technologies such as digital TV, smartcards, websites and call centres as well as common policies on the management of information.
12. Public sector organisations will develop e-business strategies, provide services which are accessible via the government and other portals and implement common standards and policies for new technology.
13. Results of the recent people's panel survey into the demand for round-the-clock public services is available at www.servicefirst.gov.uk