Number of GOV.UK domains rises for first time since launch

Written by Sam Trendall on 3 October 2018 in News
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Figure goes back past 3,000 as parish councils continue to embrace digital – but we bid farewell to secureyourfertiliser.gov.uk

For the first time since the creation of GOV.UK, annual Cabinet Office data has revealed a year-on-year rise in the total number of domains.

New stats show that, as of 1 October 2018, there are 3,020 registered domains that use the GOV.UK suffix. This represents a net rise of 82 on the 2,938 sites that were registered as of October 2017.

The 2017 total marked the sixth year in row that the number had declined, from a high of 3,771 in October 2011 – shortly before GOV.UK went live in February 2012.

This year there are 206 newly registered domains, while 124 of last year’s roster have been retired. 

The number of parish and town councils with government domains continues to grow, with 155 new sites being registered by the lowest rung of government over the last 12 months. There are now a total of 1,397 GOV.UK sites operated by parish or town councils – 46.3% of all the government domains in existence.


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Local government adoption of GOV.UK has risen steadily in recent years. Five years ago, there were little more than 900 sites dedicated to parish and town councils – which equated to less than a quarter of the total.

Elsewhere in the public sector, there are a number of sites that have been registered and set up in the last 12 months, including a new site dedicated to careers in the civil service.  

A new site has also been created for the Local Digital Declaration a pledge – designed by the Government Digital Service and the Ministry for Housing, Communities, and Local Government – to which local authorities can sign up. The declaration was launched in July.

The UK-AIR site from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs also registered its domain and launched this year. The site offers information on air quality and reporting tools.

Other sites representing new agencies or initiatives have registered GOV.UK domains in the last 12 months but are yet to launch a full site. The government Office for Artificial Intelligence – the planned establishment of which was revealed in the AI Sector Deal published earlier this year – already has the officeforai.gov.uk domain.

That site will be run by the Cabinet Office, which also registered the govsharedservices.gov.uk domain in the last year, as it continues work on the rollout of a major 10-year shared services plan.

But other domains have clearly reached the end of their usefulness, and have been retired in the past 12 months. Among the more curious names to have bitten the dust are ‘culturalpropertyadvice.gov.uk’ and ‘digitaltachograph.gov.uk’.

Perhaps we also live in a safer world than 12 months ago, as the Health and Safety Executive no longer requires the ‘major-hazards.gov.uk’ URL, while Cheshire West and Chester Council has decided that it need no longer be ‘cheshireprepared.gov.uk’.

But possibly most striking of all, the National Counter Terrorism Security Office has dropped one of government’s more distinctive domains: ‘secureyourfertiliser.gov.uk’.

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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