Eek. The Tories are finally making some manifesto pledges! Is the sky falling in? Well, it may be if you work on NHS Choices – or at least it’s starting to develop some hairline cracks. They want the site taken away from DH and competing with private sector suppliers – which will likely include the previous NHS Choices contractor Dr Foster. Looks like some serious lobbying is required.
This was preceded by Michael Cross last week in the Guardian – speculating at the Tory options for Transformational Government.
I think all of this stuff is a bit short sighted actually. To summarise – the supersites are being attacked because they are somehow failing. That businesslink.gov.uk, NHS Choices and Directgov have significant budgets, but they aren’t transforming things fast enough AND other government agencies and departments are still creating their own new websites. So not enough transforation and not fast enough.
Well, surprise surprise – telling civil servants they can’t register new .gov.uk domains only means they register .net and .org domains. They are smart like that.
I’d suggest the answer is not closing the supersites, but instead enforcing the rule of “no new sites”. If civil servants all had to put stuff on the supersites, and advertise that it was there (something Directgov is beginning to crack) you’d start to see them getting increased usage. Ideally that would convert into extra funding to invest in ongoing improvements to those sites. So the more people they get, the more funding they can invest in making the experience beneficial.
And a degree of patience please (*!political naivety alert!*). Capita are only recently in place at NHS Choices, Serco are diligently bashing through convergence at businesslink.gov.uk and Directgov appear to be getting traction with recent campaigns. Varney’s three year challenge was very aggressive. Progress is happening. To snipe now will only play into the hands of the “keep your heads down and it’ll all go away” hardliners that live off administration changes.