The information in this blogpost may now be out of date. See the current GOV.UK content and publishing guidance.
We’ve been asked recently what type of organisation gets a presence on GOV.UK - and what sort of presence they get. It’s been a while since we set out our principles on this, so we thought we’d reiterate.
Talk to us first
Classification of some organisations can be tricky, and we need to keep a handle on all the organisations live on the site. So you must talk to us before creating or removing any organisations.
Departments, agencies and arms-length bodies
All of the following types of organisation must, at the very least, have a landing page on GOV.UK, and form part of our definitive list of government organisations.
- ministerial departments
- non-ministerial departments
- executive agencies
- non-departmental public bodies
We make our decision on which organisations fall into the above categories based on the Cabinet Office's list of public bodies.
All other organisations have a full corporate presence on GOV.UK . They each get a similar homepage template, but can choose which parts to use. For example:
- Smaller organisations should follow the example of the Industrial Development Advisory Board and have a lightweight page which explains what they do, list reports and senior officials, and contact details
- Larger organisations such as Public Health England can choose to use the full functionality of an organisation profile, with news releases and a full set of corporate pages
‘Other’ government organisations
The ‘other’ category in our organisations list covers:
- organisations which are set up by central government, but are independent from departmental governance - for example, the Airport Commission and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman
- private organisations which carry out the work of central government - for example, the UK Green Investment Bank
Homepage functionality for these groups is the same as for departments and agencies, above.
Below the level of ‘organisation’ (departments, agencies, arm’s length bodies and ‘other’) there are 2 formats for modelling units/teams/groups/etc:
- High-profile group
Before you request to use one of these formats you should understand the user need for information about your group. There may be no need to model it on GOV.UK separately from the parent organisation: a collection of documents produced by the group (and tagged to the parent organisation) may be enough.
High-profile groups are large units within organisations which, although they formally exist under the governance of their parent organisation, have the properties of a separate organisation and are seen by the public as having a separate identity. Examples include Border Force and The Shareholder Executive.
Homepages for high-profile groups are the same as those for ‘full’ organisations, except they display links to their parent department(s) under their own name.
To qualify as a high-profile group, a unit should:
- be well-known and public-facing (there should be evidence that the public are searching for it by name)
- have a regular throughput of content, published under its name (rather than that of the parent department)
- have a clear mission statement and corporate structure separate from its parent organisation (eg, a board, reporting directly to a perm sec or minister)
- be contactable directly by the public
High-profile groups are also expected to have a publishing team with the resource to manage their profile page and content and have a parent department who agree that a separate corporate online presence is essential to the implementation of their digital strategy.
They can have short URLs in the form www.gov.uk/xxx.
This 'group' format has replaced ‘Policy advisory group’ and ‘Team’ formats. It’s still the correct format for policy advisory groups (PAGs) and policy teams (provided there’s a user need, of course) but it’s flexible enough to handle many other types of group.
The criteria for using the Group format differ between PAGs and other groups.
A. Policy advisory groups
PAGs are panels of people who advise on policy development, typically comprising a mixture of external experts and civil servants - for example, the Advisory Group on Hepatitis.
The user need for Group page for a PAG is transparency: the public should be able to see who is advising on and influencing government policy.
A Group page for a PAG should contain information about:
- who its members are
- members’ status
- the remit of the PAG
- who the PAG reports to
- meetings and minutes
B. Other groups
This category includes units, teams, committees etc within, set up or sponsored by a government organisation, and who carry out specific areas of work - for example, the Neighbourhood Planning Team.
Most groups will not require a Group page, because people should not need to understand the structure of government in order to interact with it. Usually a reference to the group elsewhere on GOV.UK, eg in a policy page or a document collection, will be sufficient.
Group pages should only be set up where there is evidence of a user need for information about the group itself, not just its outputs, and where there is a clear reason for users to contact the group.
A Group page for a non-PAG group should include:
- a succinct description of what the group does
- reasons why people from outside the organisation should contact the group
- direct contact details
- a link to the group’s most important publication or document collection
Group pages should not be used as a way of setting out:
- the internal structure of an organisation (ie representing every team)
- activities performed by a group (eg documents published) without a call to action
Is this helpful?
Hope so. If not, or you'd like more detail, then please comment and we'll respond.
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13 June 2014: updated to redundant guidance on 'team' format, and provide greater detail on the criteria for the 'group' format.