The government has launched gov.uk as part of its Digital by Default agenda, to provide a single point of access to government information and services.
The site, which has replaced the Directgov and Business Link services, forms a key part of a strategy shaped in part by digital champion Martha Lane Fox to transform public services online.
Commenting on the launch, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said that creating gov.uk would allow the government to make online public services better and cheaper for taxpayers, and more effective and efficient for government.
"Not only is the result simpler, clearer and faster for users, it will also cost taxpayers up to £70m less per year than the services it replaces. We anticipate further substantial savings as more departments and agencies move on to the gov.uk platform," he said.
"In the way it has been built – and will continue to be updated and improved on the basis of experience and user feedback – gov.uk is an example of how the civil service should keep continuously changing and improving and remain focused on outcomes. The public wants services to be delivered better, and with gov.uk we are responding with a digital platform that makes services quicker and easier to use, and produces efficiencies for government," he added.
The government launched the gov.uk site in both beta and alpha stages prior to it being officially released, with its beta phase being hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
The beta stage saw gov.uk going live for six weeks to test a shared publishing system, with the initial participation of 10 government departments.
The government confirmed that gov.uk has been built using open-source technology, meaning that it would not have to pay expensive software licensing costs.
The closure of the DirectGov and Business Link websites will be followed by the transition of 24 government departments and a number of agencies and non-departmental public bodies to the single domain by March 2013.
This will be followed by all remaining agencies and non-departmental public bodies by March 2014.
In July, Computing reported that the DVLA is to cut 1,213 jobs, partly as a result of the Digital by Default agenda. It said that the transformation to digital services would result in about £26m year on year savings for the taxpayer.
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