Transferring organisations should:

  • ensure that website content sits within the context of the receiving organisation from the moment responsibility is handed over
  • ensure they are aware of where all their web content is published online including all non GOV.UK presence such as campaign websites and social media (for example Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr)
  • understand where and when any online content may need to be altered substantially or closed and take the appropriate steps to ensure that information is not lost as a result

Where an organisation’s web content is solely published on GOV.UK, any changes required e.g. to departmental name or status, role holders or policy area ownership can be handled with the help of the Government Digital Service (GDS) through their established processes.

Websites outside of GOV.UK

For websites and social media accounts outside of GOV.UK, organisations should apply best practice to redirecting customers from the old domain, with an explanation of what has happened. They should keep this in place for a set period of time that is made clear to the user. Communications and marketing should support this to ensure that machinery of government changes do not affect customer services or the customer journey.

Please see guidance on web continuity to ensure that significant information is not lost during this process.

Web archiving

The National Archives captures snapshots of all UK central government websites regularly in accordance with the UK government websites’ Operational selection policy. This should be sufficient to capture significant documents and information from most websites.

However, The National Archives can help by archiving a final copy of the website before any machinery of government changes are made. Contact the Web Continuity team at The National Archives before the planned change in order to agree the most suitable approach.

The web teams in both transferring and receiving organisations should check that their websites and social media channels are included in the UK Government Web Archive. You can do this by accessing the A-Z list, through the Web Continuity team or your Information Management Consultant.

Please be aware that not all content on the live website is capable of being harvested into the Web Archive. In particular content which requires user participation such as a login, or any selection filtering by the user before downloading, cannot be captured. The National Archives carries out an extensive quality assurance process to ensure that the harvest is as complete as possible. However if departments are relying on any particular content to be archived, they should check – before removing the content from the live site – that the content has been preserved in the web archive. Tips on finding content in the web archive are provided on The National Archives’ website, including a bookmarklet that you can add to your browser to check the web archive for a known URL quickly.

There is a delay of some weeks between harvesting the website and its publication in the UK Government Web Archive. Therefore the final snapshot may not appear in the Web Archive until sometime after the machinery of government change has taken place. If you are unsure if specific content has been preserved through the web archive you can contact the Web Continuity team.