The launch of UK Online Citizen Portal marks a milestone in the development of e-government. The site, which is being developed by BT Stepchange and BT Syntegra, will play a crucial role in the aim of getting all government services on line by 2005. The portal will be a one stop shop with a powerful search engine giving access eventually to 1000 official websites In time the portal will transform the relationship between Government and citizens by turning public services inside out. Instead of being organised around Government structures, services will be organised for the citizen’s convenience.To simplify access to services, a range of facilities will be grouped into life episodes. For those moving house there is information about house prices, local schools and transport and a change of address service, which streamlines the process of telling departments that householders have moved. The other life episodes available initially are dealing with crime, having a baby and going away.
The site also has Citizen Space which makes it easy to find out about Government’s plans and to contribute to the formulation of new policies. There is also information about elected representatives and registering to vote.
The next version of the site will be available in February 2001. The revised version will have a more sophisticated search capability based on free text questions, two more life episodes as well as Local Authority participation. The first phase of the pilot stage ends in July 2001, when it will include some 10 life episodes and substantial private sector, local authority and voluntary sector participation. By making the early version of the site available to the public it is hoped to gather feedback on how people use the portal and this information will guide future enhancement and development.
The UK Online portal is an essential component of the initiative to develop the Government General Practitioner service, which will be piloted in Post Offices in Leicestershire and Rutland from July 2001. See Publicnet 4 December 2000.