The last half of 2010 (Part 2 – October & November)

Dafydd Vaughan on 19 January 2011

This is the second part in a recap of everything that happened in the last half of 2010.  Part 1 covered July, August & September.  This part looks at October and November.

October 2010

In October we completed the second phase of the new Consumer Focus website.  Earlier in the year we made the move from an external proprietary content management system to a WordPress system managed in house by CF Labs.  The second phase of work involved a complete restructure of the content and a refreshed website template.

As with the new CF Labs in September, we used WordPress 3.0 and built new templates for each of the Consumer Focus Nations (GB, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland).  New areas were created for advice, policy work and publications.

We launched the site just in time to hear rumours that Consumer Focus was to be abolished in the Government’s “bonfire of the quangos”.  It turned out that the rumours were true.  The intention is to transfer some of our functions to Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland.  Even now, 4 months later, we still don’t know exactly when or how this transfer will happen.

Also in October

  • 7thRumours suggested that Consumer Focus was to be abolished
  • 14thReview of quangos published – Consumer Focus to be abolished and some functions transferred to Citizens Advice / Citizens Advice Scotland
  • 19th – Consumer Focus began publishing organisation charts and pay data on our website under the Open Government Licence.
  • 20th – Government announced that all public services will be provided online by default in future
  • 20th – Government announced its Comprehensive Spending Review involving huge cuts to public services
  • 29th – The Public Bodies Bill (which will enable government to abolish & merge large numbers of organisations) was introduced to Parliament.

November 2010

November was a quiet month – mostly spent finalising work on three projects that were due to launch before the year came to a close.

At the end of the month we launched the second phase of the Consumer Focus Energy Price Comparison (EPC) Service.  The EPC acts as a mini-price comparison system and gives you a rough idea of the price to expect when shopping around for an energy supplier.  Consumer Focus inherited this system from our predecessor Energywatch.  Earlier in 2010 we’d shifted the system to a new data supplier and rebuilt it so we could manage it in house to save money.

The second phase of development involved producing a brand new front end to make the system easier to use.  We gave it the CF Labs treatment and integrated it with the Consumer Focus website design.  We cleaned up the code, added a bunch of features and created bookmarkable URLs for every search.

Also in November

  • 4th – I finally made it to a #teacamp event – a meet up of public sector web guys that happens every month in a cafe in Westminster.
  • 4th – My old primary school destroyed in a fire
  • 12th – Eric Pickles (Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government) blocked councils from charging for Freedom of Information requests
  • 12th – Daily Mirror reported that all public sector websites are to be merged into a supersite run by the Cabinet Office
  • 13th – A fellow public servant was cruelly attacked by a nasty columnist in the Daily Mail for tweeting
  • 14th – The Independent jumped onto the attack bandwagon
  • 17th – More rumours surfaced of Directgov taking over all public sector websites
  • 19th –  A prototype tool for showing structured organisation diagrams launched
  • 19th – The CEO of Directgov resigned
  • 19th – Consumer Focus published details of all spending over £25,000 for April-October using the Open Government Licence
  • 21st – The board of Directgov was dissolved
  • 22nd – The Number10 petition service was shelved permanently.
  • 23rd – Martha Lane Fox published her review into the future of Directgov.  The review recommends the creation of a single ‘Head of Digital’ within the Cabinet Office.

Coming up…

  • Community post offices
  • Rating energy suppliers