The government's main information services website Directgov is to be replaced by the new GOV.UK site from 17 October.
The move to GOV.UK, which aims to provide all government websites under a single domain, is expected to create significant cost savings. According to a Parliamentary answer by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, Directgov’s running costs were more than four times higher than that of GOV.UK, totaling £21.4m for 2011-2012.
The beta version of GOV.UK was launched early this year. The site will eventually become a platform for all government online transactions, as part of the public sector’s digital by default drive.
"GOV.UK will be a simpler, faster and cheaper way for everyone in the UK to find government information and access digital public services,” a Cabinet Office spokesman told Computer Weekly.
"Switching to GOV.UK will generate huge savings that will dwarf the one-off costs of building the site and converging other sites with GOV.UK. The site is built using open-source technology, which means we won't have to pay expensive software licensing costs - and anyone can re-use the software that we've written,” he said.
The news follows a National Audit Office report last year, which slammed government for failing to measure its £479m online services spend, including its Gateway, Directgov and Business.gov services.
The technology that underpins the existing services is becoming obsolete and is unlikely to be appropriate for the new digital services, said the report.
It recommended that Mike Bracken, executive director for digital at the Government Digital Service - which is developing GOV.UK - have absolute control of the user experience across all digital channels to deliver a better and more cost-effective service for the user.