GOV.UK to take more responsibility for local links as Local Directgov is retired

Written by Rebecca Hill on 28 July 2016 in News
News

The Local Directgov site that councils use to manage links for their services could be retired as early as next month, with more control of those links moving to GOV.UK, the Government Digital Service has said.

Directgov man

The move to retire Local Directgov probably marks the end for these toys - Photo credit: Flickr, Paul Downey

The contract for Local Directgov ends this year, and GDS is working to replace the system, which is used to manage the links for local authority services that are accessed by GOV.UK users.

The system acts as the data source for information on a range of local transactions – such as paying council tax or finding out about rubbish collection – from the GOV.UK site.

However, Mark Mcleod, who manages product changes in GDS, said that around 10% of the links are missing or broken, which he noted was not a good experience for users.


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Writing in a blogpost about the changes, Mcleod added that not all local authorities are aware they are responsible for keeping their links up to date through the Local Directgov admin system.

In addition, Mcleod said that maintaining links was “not always a high priority” for councils – something he put down to “budget constraints and other responsibilities they have”.

Mcleod’s post set out a roadmap for replacing the Local Directgov service, saying that it would be retired by August or September 2016.

The idea is to make it easier for those local authorities that want to maintain their links to do so, but a major thrust of the changes will allow GDS to “take responsibility” for maintaining the links when they can’t.

GOV.UK control

The changes include retiring 130 duplicated local transactions and 168 transactions that get very low traffic, which will be done using the government’s transition tool, with pages redirecting to either GOV.UK or the National Archives.

In addition, GDS plans move transactions for passport offices, check and send post officers, wedding venues and employment tribunal officers to the central site. It will also make the ‘find your local authority’ service currently open to users on the Local Directgov website available on GOV.UK.

A new application to manage other links to local authority websites from GOV.UK is being built, with councils managing their links using Local Links Manager. This is at the minimum viable product stage, and a first round of research with councils has been completed.

However, because councils will not be given access to the new manager immediately, the GOV.UK team will maintain links to local authority websites at first.

Then, Mcleod said, a small number of local authorities will be given access to the manager system, but this “will just be the ones that want to maintain their own links”. Councils that would like to do so, should contact the Local Ditectgov admin team, he said.

The updated system will also have a link checker to handle broken links “more gracefully”, with broken ones detected and the user diverted to the council’s homepage until it can be fixed.

This link-checker will also be useful for the rest of GOV.UK, it said, and the aim is to extend it across the whole range of sites.

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