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Coalition sparks revolution in government technology

“If the Government is to harness the power of its on-line presence, a rapid and coherent change of focus will be needed.”

Andy Vernon, public sector expert, pa consulting group 

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Government technology experts are engaged in a frantic race to overhaul departmental websites to reflect the change of administration following the general election, according to reports.

Activity on the portals was frozen during the campaign itself, but Whitehall is now a hive of activity as civil servants rush to replace old policies and ministerial biographies with pages reflecting the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, the BBC reports.

Indeed, as they rush to keep pace with changes at Westminster, many departments' pages display the disclaimer: "Content on this site is under review following the formation of a new government."

Others have had to undergo a rapid re-branding, such as the Department for Children, Schools and Family (DCSF), which has now become the Department for Education.

The challenge for civil servants has been all the more difficult because this is the first change of government to occur in the internet age.

"When Labour came to power in 1997, government departments were just beginning to feel their way on the web", the BBC noted.

Now, however, technology is playing an increasingly important role in the public sector and earlier this year, founder Martha Lane Fox was appointed to establish a cabinet office unit that will drive forward online access to government services.

Andy Vernon, PA’s expert in information management and assurance for the public sector comments, “The recent changes of Government and of Government Department structures have led to an overhaul of the UK Government's on line presence with a large proportion of it being rebranded, changed, or archived to reflect policy changes.

This carries numerous risks given today's pervasive reliance on the web for information and services. Traffic may be diverted to more costly channels such as the 'phone; confidence in public services may be undermined by delays in posting new material; and those relying on the Government's web presence - such as the third sector and investors may become frustrated. A rapid restoration of services is essential if the 'stickiness' and benefits of online Government services are not to be undermined.”

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