Government IT

Parliament to unify web and ICT with Digital Office

Caroline Baldwin

Parliamentary ICT (PICT) will soon be replaced by a Digital Office which aims to bring together online and Parliament ICT services.

House of Commons and House of Lords management boards have announced updates to the way Parliament will conduct its IT proceedings.

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The current Parliament IT offering will be replaced by a Digital Office which aims to bring together its Web and Intranet Service (WIS) and Parliament ICT (PICT) services.

Off the back of a review into IT in Parliament, the management boards have also decided to appoint a head of digital to run the Digital Office. This person will be “publicly accountable for delivering measurably rising levels of satisfaction with Parliament’s digital services from members, staff and the public”.

Parliament’s current online offering

Over the three-month period 
from 11 September 2013 to 
11 December 2013, Parliament's 
online services saw 7.15 million 
visits from 4.9 million unique visitors 
in total. This is, very roughly:

  • 100 times less visited than the Mail 
    Online (including international audiences).
  • Five times less visited than 
    Gov.uk.
  • Half as visited as the Transport 
    for London website.
  • 10 times as visited as the 
    Essex County Council website.

Taken from the My Society review of Parliament’s Online Services

The Digital Office will merge Parliament’s WIS and ICT functions to modernise its IT offering and update its legacy strategy.

“Separating ‘the internet’ from ‘ICT’ is now a division that serves only to increase friction and decrease the ability of Parliament to serve internal and external user needs,” stated the report by My Society.

“Like many organisations, Parliament started working on online, internet­based services as an addendum to its core business of producing and publishing documents: an experiment started in the 1990s to keep up with the times. The current structure of Parliament, with the Web and Intranet Services team separated from the ICT team, reflects this legacy,” it said.

The report stated that the separation of the web and ICT is “outdated in principle” and has “broken down in practice”.

“The breakdown is most clearly apparent in the failure of parliamentary authorities to agree on a future strategy for Parliament’s website,” it said.

Last week, Parliament suffered from a number of IT failures and computer crashes after a supplier error, which saw MPs and staff in Westminster frustrated by crashing web browsers and video as well as slow delivery of emails.

Parliament is now offering members of the public the chance to give feedback on the review. Comments should be submitted by email by Tuesday 6 May.


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