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Check if you need to get your service assessed
You may have to get your service assessed, either by the Government Digital Service (GDS) or your own department, to check that you’re building it in a way that meets the Digital Service Standard.
To get your service assessed you must arrange 3 service assessments, in which you explain how you’re building your service and the decisions you’re making.
Your service can’t go fully live on GOV.UK until you’ve passed all 3 assessments, though you can launch a ‘beta’ or trial version after you pass the beta assessment.
Find out more about how service assessments work.
Services which must be assessed
You must get your service assessed if it’s the responsibility of a central government department (including an agency or non-departmental public body), and it meets either of the following conditions:
- it’s a public-facing transactional service that’s completely new or being rebuilt (small changes to the user interface or updating logos don’t count as a rebuild)
- you’ve been told you must get your service assessed as a condition of your Cabinet Office spend approval
Definition of a transactional service
A transactional service is any service which allows users to either:
- exchange information, money, permission, goods or services
- submit personal information which results in a change to a government record
The following are examples of actions which transactional services allow users to do - if your service allows these, it’s a transactional service:
- make a request, eg request an uncertified copy of your patent
- make a claim, eg make a claim to an employment tribunal
- lodge an appeal, eg appeal against a planning application decision
- register a change of circumstances, eg report a Universal Credit change in circumstances
- complete an application, eg apply online for student finance
- order something, eg order a copy of a birth certificate
- register on a database, eg register to vote
- make a payment, eg pay a court fine
- book something, eg book a practical driving test
- create an account to access a service or information, eg file your Self Assessment tax return
- submit their contact details, eg a ‘contact me’ field
The outcome of these transactions is recorded and changes the information that the government keeps about the user.
Transactional services may also give users access to data held by the government, eg view driving licence.
Find out who’ll assess your service
Your service will be assessed by a panel from either:
- your own department or agency (in an agency, contact your parent department to find out who’ll assess you)
Who runs your assessment will depend on:
- the number of transactions the service has (or will have)
- whether your service is used by the public or only by civil servants
In some cases, you may be told where to get your service assessed when you apply for spend control approval.
Who assesses public-facing services
If your service is public-facing and has more than 100,000 transactions a year, GDS will run your service assessments.
If it’s public-facing and has fewer than 100,000 transactions a year, your department will run your assessments.
Who assesses services for civil servants
You must get your service assessed by GDS if it’s either:
- a cross-government service for all civil servants (eg Civil Service Learning)
- a service for more than one department and it’ll have more than 100,000 transactions a year
If your service is for one department, you’ll have to get it assessed by your department and signed off by your digital leader.
If it’s a service for more than one department and it has (or is likely to have) fewer than 100,000 transactions a year, you’ll have to get it assessed by the department that’s leading the service’s development, and signed off by their digital leader.
Arranging your assessments
You must arrange to have your service assessed 3 times:
- at the end of the alpha development stage
- when you’re ready to launch it publicly with beta branding on GOV.UK
- at the end of beta, when you’re ready to remove the beta branding
Arrange an assessment with GDS
Email email@example.com 4 weeks before you want an assessment with GDS.
GDS will agree a date and time for the assessment, which will take place at Aviation House in London.
Arrange an assessment with your department
If your service has to be assessed by your department, contact your department’s digital leader and assessments lead. They’ll agree a time and place for the assessment with you.
If you’re in an agency, you may have to contact your parent department to arrange an assessment.
What you need to provide
After you arrange an assessment, the assessment team will contact you to ask for a:
- brief description of your service and its intended users
- link to the most recent prototype or development environment for the service
- high level technical architecture diagram
Preparing for your assessments
When you’re ready for alpha assessment
Your service is generally ready for an alpha assessment when:
- you’ve built a prototype of the end-to-end user journey which gives you a clear idea of what you’ll need to build in beta
- you understand the technology that you’ll use to build in beta, and any integrations you’ll need
- you can answer questions about your service based on the alpha prompts and evidence
When you’re ready for beta assessment
Your service is generally ready for a beta assessment when:
- you’ve got a working end-to-end version of your service that’s ready to launch on GOV.UK for public testing with users
- you can answer questions about your service based on the beta prompts and evidence
When you’re ready for live assessment
Your service is generally ready for a live assessment when:
- you can demonstrate that the service works at the anticipated level of uptake
- you can demonstrate your ongoing commitment to meeting the Digital Service Standard and prove you’ve got the resources to do so
- you’ve achieved all of the outcomes for the public beta phase and can show evidence that proves this
- you can answer questions about your service based on the live prompts and evidence
Read more about how service assessments work.
If your service doesn’t need assessment
Even if your service doesn’t meet the conditions which mean you must have it assessed, you should still build it in a way that meets the Digital Service Standard, as far as possible.
You can arrange for your service to be assessed, even if it doesn’t meet the conditions which mean you must have it assessed.
To do this, contact:
- GDS by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for services with more than 100,000 transactions
- your digital leader for services with fewer than 100,000 transactions
Examples and case studies
To find out more about service assessments:
- see reports for all service assessments and self-certifications to date
- learn why spend controls are more than just about box ticking
- read what it’s like to join a GDS service standard assessment panel
- see how departments prepare to have their support assessed against the service standard
You may also find the guide on how service assessments work useful.