Headlines: February 3rd, 2000

Trials of the Government’s one stop Internet shop have started this week. The website, known as the ‘Government Portal’ will eventually become the way into all government services.The first service on the Portal is a change of address system. Moving house can involve telling the Inland Revenue, Benefits Agency and the Vehicle Licensing Agency about the change of address. The system under trial transmits the address details to all the organisations that need to know. To make the trial realistic, focus groups are inputting imaginary changes of address and their reactions are being collated by MORI. The aim is to find out how easy, practical and secure people find the system.

The Portal Demonstrator was developed by Compaq Computers Ltd, in partnership with Microsoft, Royal Mail and Barclays. The design of the Demonstrator will be available at http://www.citu.gov.uk  at the end of February. A fully operational Portal, processing ‘live’ information, will operate on a pilot basis from July 2000.

The launch of the Portal trial marks a significant step towards e-government. The infrastructure is now in place to give access to a wide range of services over a variety of delivery channels, some of which will be provided by the private sector. The development will speed up the overhaul of backroom services across the public sector and is likely to lead to fundamental changes in service delivery.