The goal of the Government Gateway project is to join up government back-office systems through a single access point. The first transaction services through the Gateway will be rolled out next year, including online VAT returns and self-assessment tax filing.
Basda has warned Whitehall that the Gateway will become a target for hackers, and has said that businesses could face penalties if they are unable to file tax returns because the site cannot be accessed.
‘All information requests of the government have to go through the Gateway, and there will be huge peaks to the traffic. The government is putting all of its eggs in one basket,’ warned Dennis Keeling, Basda chief executive.
The government is making slow progress in moving online. Only 152 services out of 457 delivered to businesses and citizens are available online, while 326 services are expected to be online by 2002. Only four of those 152, however, have any interactive function, and the majority are only information points, according to government IT watcher, Kable.
The Gateway project is having a knock-on effect on other projects as well. Keeling said Basda’s work on developing XML standards for the Payroll system – to provide the Inland Revenue with payroll data over the internet – has been delayed six months because it will have to be rewritten to fit with the Gateway.
The Cabinet Office claimed that as a ‘key element’ of national IT infrastructure, the Gateway is being specified to ‘deliver high levels of availability, reliability, security and performance’. It is being developed in line with the government’s Successful IT report.
First published in Computing magazine