Gateway rues lack of back-up

The Government Gateway does not have a back-up system because its original business plan did not consider it a priority, it has...

The Government Gateway does not have a back-up system because its original business plan did not consider it a priority, it has emerged following last week's outage.

The centralised registration service for e-government services was knocked out for 36 hours last week following a fire at its datacentre. The outage left more than 165,000 users unable to complete secure online transactions with government IT systems.

Failing to ensure back-up systems are in place more than six months after the launch of the service will be embarrassing to both the Government and Microsoft, which recently signed a deal to sell the system's core technology abroad.

The Cabinet Office refused to say when a contingency system will be operational but insisted it has passed through the business development stage and is "nearing completion".

"A back-up site has always been provided by the business plan but it has not been implemented yet," said a Cabinet Office spokeswoman. "We decided to prioritise the setting up of the system and then to set up the back-ups."

The outage came at one of the busiest periods of the year, as thousands logged on to file annual tax returns.

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