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Agencies and arm’s length bodies: transition to GOV.UK

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The first government agencies have now started their move onto GOV.UK.  There's a big challenge ahead. This stage of the transition will bring more than 300 agencies and arm’s length bodies (ALBs) into a single website, GOV.UK.

Once it's completed, GOV.UK will see up to:

  • 10 times more traffic
  • 20 times current content
  • 8,200 more publishers (there are currently 600)

Some of the agencies - such as the Environment Agency - are bigger than their parent department, and many have specialist users with specific needs.

What we’re doing

We’re moving publications, announcements, policy pages, corporate information and other content onto one site - GOV.UK.

What we won’t be doing

We won’t be moving over most of the tools and transactions. These will stay where they are for the moment, unless they are one of the 25 exemplar services.

We’re also not looking to bring over all the content currently published on the agency sites - content needs to be rationalised and archived where possible.

Transition phases

The focus for the transition is on the needs of people using the agency and ALB sites. While some of the agencies have everyday users, businesses and citizens looking for information or services, many have more specialist or professional users. They come to sites with a specific need - for example, local authorities, teachers and the legal profession looking for policy guidance.

We start with a discovery phase, learning more about the sites, who uses them and what they're looking for. We also collect all the URLs so we can make sure that once the relevant content is on GOV.UK, all the old URLs point to the right place. Paul Downey wrote about this on the GDS blog.

The next stage is more detailed analysis of user needs. We work with each agency and ALB to understand which are the most popular and important.

Once we've identified user needs we look at how best to meet them. We’ll also make sure duplicate and surplus content is removed.

The last stage is to create the content, map old URLs to new ones, finalise technical preparations, and switch over to GOV.UK.


Each agency and ALB will have a transition manager to support them throughout the process. There will be training available for people on the GOV.UK publishing system as well as GOV.UK style and content formats.

We’re not underestimating the size of the challenge and we’ve done a lot of planning already. We've learnt from previous projects like the transition of Directgov and Businesslink - sites which generated over 30 million visits per month - and the departmental sites that joined GOV.UK between November 2012 and April 2013.

Our approach is agile: we are iterating, testing and learning at each stage.

Over the coming months, we’ll share more about the transition:

  • what we discover and learn as agencies and government bodies move to GOV.UK
  • more detailed information on common questions
  • updates from colleagues in the agencies and ALBS on what they've learned

We want to hear from our colleagues. This blog is a place for conversations about your transition to GOV.UK. You can also contact your transition manager if you have any questions. If you're not sure who your transition manager is, email

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