Headlines: February 11th, 2004

The private intranet which links government offices throughout the UK, the ‘Government Secure Intranet’, or GSi, has been replaced to provide a service for the wider public sector. It provides voice, video as well as secure e-mail services and acts as the communications hub for shared government IT systems. The new GSi is operated by Energis, under a five year 40 million pounds contract.There are currently some 140 organisations connected to the network and over 280,000 direct users. It handles more than one million e-mails daily. Plans for growth include local councils, the Emergency Services Network, private sector companies providing services to the public sector, and other publicly funded organisations such as the Civil Aviation Authority. There will also be links to other networks including the Criminal Justice Network, NHS Network, the MOD and the EU. This expansion would bring the number of users to over one million.

The new network includes a facility known as Government Secure Unrestricted which provides the confidentiality of the GSI but without security restrictions. This will allow specialist user groups to use the network. Examples include professional groupings such as human resources and procurement as well as people in different parts of the public sector involved in particular projects and programs.

It is estimated that the new GSi is about 10% cheaper than the network it replaced Because the aim is to promote secure information sharing across the public sector it has lower cost connection charges which makes it more affordable to councils and particularly to smaller organizations.