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UK Government: New policy to strengthen public sector IT systems

October 11, 2000.

Cabinet Office Minister Ian McCartney today unveiled a key plank in the Government's drive to get all its services online by 2005 and cut bureaucracy within the public sector.

Speaking at London's QE2 Centre, Mr McCartney launched the e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF) - a piece of policy which will help IT systems across the whole public sector to communicate smoothly with each other.

There are two main benefits the policy will bring:

1. Creating 24-hour one-stop Government: e-GIF is key to creating one-stop Government where services are available 24-hours a day from a single electronic point of access. For example, the UK online portal - built around e-GIF standards - will offer services around life episodes, giving the user information they need about a particular experience such as having a baby or learning to drive.

2. Banishing bureaucracy in Government: Step-up the red-tape revolution within Government, moving the public sector away from traditional paper-based ways of working by electronically joining up information across a range of Government departments and organisations. Again this is built around e-GIF standards.

The Office of the e-Envoy's E-Government Group will provide important advice on best practice in implementing the e-GIF framework for the public sector.

Mr McCartney said:

"This important initiative may not be the sort to grab headlines, but it reflects the sort of vital policies we are implementing to modernise our public services."

"The seamless flow of information across official organisations has many benefits to the public and the public sector worker. It will help us wipe-out the headache, of people having to contact a myriad of Government services when they want to do things like move house or learn to drive. In future this will all be available from one single electronic point, through the internet, public kiosks or other means."

"It will also help staff to do more of their work in simple electronic ways. And by tearing through the paper-trails created by routine transactions, we can free up frontline staff to provide a better service to the public."


1. The launch of e-GIF takes places at the QEII Conference Centre, London today (11 October 2000). Cabinet Office Minister Ian McCartney is giving the key note speech, with speeches also given by Neil Holloway from Microsoft UK, Piero Corsini from IBM, Vicente Parajo Collada from the EC Commission, Rob Lloyd from CISCO, Anwar Choudhury, a Deputy Director in the Office of the e-Envoy's e-government group and Ann Steward, the Director of e-government.

2. The 'e-government Interoperability Framework' (e-GIF) is available at It sets out the government's technical policies and standards for achieving interoperability and information systems coherence across the public sector. The e-GIF defines the essential pre-requisite for joined-up and web enabled government. It is a cornerstone policy in the overall e-government strategy.

3. The e-GIF standards and policies free up public sector organisations so that they can concentrate on serving the customer through building value added information and services. It will be for the organisations themselves to consider how their business processes can be changed to be more effective by taking advantage of the opportunities provided by increased interoperability.

4. The main thrust of the framework is to adopt the Internet and World Wide Web standards for all government systems. There is a strategic decision to adopt XML and XSL as the core standard for data integration and presentation. This includes the definition and central provision of XML schemas for use throughout the public sector. The e-GIF also adopts standards that are well supported in the market place. It is a pragmatic strategy that aims to reduce cost and risk for government systems whilst aligning them to the global Internet revolution.

5. The Prime Minister launched the Government's UK online campaign on 11 September. Its threefold aim is to ensure universal access to the internet by 2005, to get all Government services online by that date and to make Britain one of the world's leading knowledge economies.

6. One-third of Government services already available online. They include:

* Health advice from NHS Direct Online;

* Information on schools from the Parents' web-site;

* Residential property prices at regional, local authority or postcode sector levels from the Land Registry ;

* Companies House (online returns and searches); and

* Foreign Office advice for those travelling abroad.

7. Within the next year, you will be able to do the following things online:

* Have hospital appointments booked directly by your GP while you wait at the surgery;

* Education courses in subjects like Japanese and Maths;

* Apply for Employment service jobs from home or touchscreen kiosks in jobcentres;

* Forecast your pension through online service; and

* Get information on jury service at each Crown Court.

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive.

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