A quiet post in the comments sections below tells me that the Government Gateway enabled its 100th service yesterday. That’s a big deal. Big because 100 is a nice round number in our counting system (Dan will doubtless comment) and big because it’s been far harder than anyone ever thought it could be. Growth in 2005 has largely been down to enabling local authority transactional services – payments as well as form filling.
It’s taken a lot of hard work by people from all over government and the private sector to make this happen – whether it was vendors (Microsoft, Sun, Software AG, EDS, CapGemini, Atos, Cable and Wireless, Vizuri, Nfocus and a dozen others), contractors (you know who you are), Cabinet Office civil servants (you certainly know who you are) and then the departments and LAs that have plugged in, often with their own vendors, partners and contractors alongside them.
Volumes are still not where I thought they would be – despite their being over 7.5 million registered users, the bulk are accessing self assessment, PAYE and so on (I’ll let someone else say and “defrauding the tax credits system” – but that’s not an internet issue as far as I can see). As another comment – and a particularly erudite one – says, “egov is missing a trick, the vast majority are not yet ready for services”. I’m not sure I agree with that, but plainly the trick has been missed because people are not using them. I think it’s because the services are not bundled in a way that makes them attractive to use. Making a congestion charge payment via text is an attractive option because it beats all the other ways.
And, as to building a search engine instead of the gateway. We did “build” a search engine – a couple of times. But searching 3,500 government sites that are architected differently, don’t use the same names for the same things, frequently duplicate data, have out of date data and so on, made it hard to find the right answers. That is, I think, why direct.gov got out of the pan-government search business. Google does it so much better.
Anyway, happy 100th service. My congratulations to all of eDt, then and now.