The major obstacle to true service provision on-line (as opposed to largely information provision) appears to have been overcome.A project team at the Cabinet Office has worked alongside a series of partners to enable the first secure transactions to be delivered online through the Government Gateway.
First departments to go live will be HM Customs & Excise (VAT returns), Inland Revenue (PAYE year-end returns) and MAFF (IACS Area Aid Applications).
Users have been able to register available for online transactions with Customs & Excise and MAFF for about two weeks. Inland Revenue registration will be available later this month. This will allow potential users to take advantage of services as they go live after mid-March.
Once a user has successfully registered, they will be able to access services from different departments using a common user ID or digital certificate.
The Gateway will have many points of access, such as the UK online citizen portal, Governmentweb sites, commercial portals and applications.
The team at the Cabinet Office is drawing from a wide range of commercial interests to make the project happen. Microsoft is taking the leading role in enabling the overall solution, with Sema responsible for live support. The hardware platform is provided by Dell and is hosted by Cable and Wireless. Viacode, a subsidiary of Royal Mail, provides digital certificates through the British Chambers of Commerce.
The first three services to go live are likely to be followed quickly by several others. Already queueing up to be part of the project are the Department of Social Security, the Small Business Service from the DTI, Northern Ireland/Scotland Executives and the Welsh Assembly.