Headlines: April 29th, 2004

Directgov, the Government’s new online information service is to be extended and is also to be made available to homes with access to digital television. Customer research has shown widespread support for the system, which is designed to improve the way that government information can be accessed electronically. Users are now able to visit Directgov by going to www.direct.gov.uk.As part of the next stage in the system’s roll out, the Office of the e-Envoy has announced that Directgov will be extended to digital television users through Sky, and Telewest and shortly through NTL. That will make it available to nearly 10 million households.

In March this year a sample of 100 Internet users were shown both Directgov and UK online for the first time and were asked to complete a number of tasks and then to rate the sites. Seventy-one per cent said information available on Directgov was easy to understand and 88% of those interviewed felt the site made it easier for them to access government information and public services. Eight out of ten preferred the new site to UK online web site and felt it offered a broader range of content in a better-structured way.

Other key findings show that 80 of the users said the new service gave convenient access to public services and information and nine out of ten said they were likely to use Directgov in the future, compared with two-thirds who said they were likely to visit the UK online site.

Andrew Pinder, the Government e-Envoy, said the idea behind the new service was simple and closely related to the Government’s proposals for the reform of public services. “The service puts the complexity of government firmly behind the scenes, drawing together government resources to address the issues and interests of real people, ” he said.

He also announced the extension of the existing Directgov service to Digital TV, providing government information structured around topics such as learning, health, local information and travel. The topic-based approach means users can find information directly relevant to them.

People living in Somerset, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Kent are able to obtain information about local services through Directgov and more local councils are expected to follow their lead over the coming months.