28 July 2003 IT services company ITNet has won the contract to host one of the most sensitive applications in the UK – the government’s controversial and much-hyped ‘Gateway’ project.
The five year contract, worth £83 million, means that the Birmingham, England-based company will now host all of the key web sites that underpin the UK government’s e-government services. ITNet won the contract after an intense 18-month tendering process.
The deal is the largest to be given to a single contractor for the e-government project and is one of the largest in ITNet’s history. Shares in ITNet, which had sales of £179 million in its most recent financial year, rose 6% on the news.
The Gateway is a national portal that enables citizens and users of government services to access all online government services through a single web site. It is the technological base for what Prime Minister Tony Blair calls “joined up government”.
ITNet will now manage the site, which links many different government services and sites, and which enables most government activities to be viewed and managed by one content management system.
In 2001, the government hosted site was put out of action for 36 hours following a fire, prompting experts to disparage the government’s disaster recovery plans.
The Gateway project has been a constant source of controversy, partly because of missed deadlines, partly because of its use of Microsoft web serving technology and partly because many experts simply think it is a bad idea.