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What Next for UK Online?

The website for the Office of the e-Envoy (OeE) is no more. As of 2 June, surfers pointing their web browser to the OeE web address will now be redirected to the site of the new eGovernment Unit of the Cabinet Office, which has now officially taken over the e-Envoy's responsibilities. The new site has undergone a slight rebrand and for regular visitors, helpfully retains the same information in the same structure as the old OeE web pages. If users had previously bookmarked a page on the OeE site, they will now be redirected to the correct location on the new site. This is in stark contrast to when the OeE migrated their website to their existing inhouse content management system, DotP, after which virtually all previous links were redirected to an error page. The new website follows a recent change where the 'UK online' citizen portal was replaced with an improved service, Directgov -

The first Office of The e-Envoy Web site was developed by, guess who? Simon Moores and hung-off his own website until the Cabinet Office managed to shift enough paperwork and find the resource to do one of their own. At the time this lay somewhere between funny and sad.

eGov monitor reports that the Government's network of 'UK online' ICT centres is likely to branch off into different directions from August, with moves afoot to give centres a greater role into providing access to eGovernment services in deprived communities.

University for Industry (Ufi), which is responsible for administering the 6,000-plus centres, is looking at possible options for the network's future over the next two to three years. While deliberations are still ongoing, current short-term funding for the majority of centres had now ended, posing the question of how these will be sustained.

The main two paths being considered are for the UK online centres to choose to become "community learning venues", or exclude mainstream learning from their core activity and align themselves instead with providing community access to ICT. Centre managers have been informed that if considering opting for the latter, they would, at some point, "need" to get involved in the delivery of eGovernment services.

Decisions of whether this plan will come to fruition depend upon the outcome of nine pilots underway to investigate the potential use of UK online centres as access points for online government services. These are due to be completed next month and are said to have been "well-received" by Government departments involved. If the outcome proves positive, Ufi intends to continue to lobby for more funding to support eGovernment delivery.

With UK online having now run its course as the Government's main e-delivery brand, under the proposals, each centre will be free to develop their own local profile independent of UK online. This means that centres will be able to drop the UK online brand and align themselves with other national brands such as Webwise or learndirect, or with local partnerships, as they wish.

For more on the future strategy for UK online centres, see:


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