Government publishers can now more accurately describe to users what’s happened to ‘closed’ organisations. This blogpost tells you how we’ve modelled the changes, and what government publishers should do now.
When ‘closed’ isn’t quite right
Every now and then, government adjusts how it’s structured. Organisations are absorbed into others, split into parts, abolished, devolved, renamed.
For example, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recently replaced the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Vehicle and Operator Standards Agency (VOSA).
When this happens, it’s important we keep a record of the 'old' organisation on GOV.UK. Users may, for example, still be searching for it, and its publications are likely to be needed as a historical record.
At the same time, though, it’s important we make it clear to users that it's no longer part of government.
Our way of doing this up to now, however, has been a bit blunt. Our publishing systems automatically stuck up a ‘This organisation is closed’ banner, which for some organisations was inaccurate or - at the least - misleading.
For example, although the Court Service was absorbed into HM Courts and Tribunals Service, this wasn’t clear to users at a glance.
7 different flavours of closed
We’ve now hopefully gone some way to fixing this.
We’ve introduced different ways of describing ‘closed’ that suit organisations which have:
- been replaced
- changed their name
- become independent of government
- devolved to regional government
The details are set out in the GOV.UK publisher manual.
But it means, for example, that we can now describe HM Courts Service as pictured.
What to do next
We’ve already reviewed and updated the ‘closed’ description for former government departments - as well as a few other organisations which were causing particular confusion.
Departmental digital teams should now:
- take a look at our new publishing guidance for closed organisations
- review (in Publisher) the list of ‘closed’ organisations associated with their department
- if changes for accuracy are needed, prioritise changes to the most prominent organisations
We’re also happy to take questions or comments on how this works.