Several UK tax publishers have been in touch with us to learn more about how the transition of HMRC to GOV.UK will affect them. There are many publishers who use and build upon content published by HMRC to create products relied upon by accountants, lawyers and tax advisers.
We would like to invite all tax publishers to attend a briefing on GOV.UK. There will be an opportunity for questions on the day and if there is a need we can arrange follow up meetings on a later date. The workshop will be held on Monday 9 December from 1.30pm to 3.30pm at Aviation House. If you would like to attend, please contact the HMRC transition team.
We will cover the background to GOV.UK, the work we are doing on transition and our approach to building an API for content on GOV.UK.
We will also discuss some of our initial thoughts for developing the APIs for content on GOV.UK (including the HMRC manuals) and start to understand what your user needs will be for accessing this content through an API.
You may want to bring along a software developer from your organisation as this session will be the start of a much larger piece of work for developing the GOV.UK API during 2014.
GOV.UK going wholesale
In her 2010 report that helped create GOV.UK, Martha Lane-Fox emphasised the need to open up government transactions and content so that they can be delivered easily by commercial organisations and charities. She wrote that GOV.UK should be:
a wholesaler, as well as the retail shop front for government services & content, by mandating the development and opening-up of Application Programme Interfaces (APls) to third parties.
James Stewart, Technical Architect for GOV.UK has previously written about the existing GOV.UK's APIs and how we use them to build and monitor the site. James also blogged about what those APIs mean for other developers who might want to use GOV.UK content and data.
HMRC ahead of the game
HMRC is ahead of the game in creating a wholesale model for delivery of government services online. They were an early adopter of the use of APIs and have many case studies. APIs mean that 3rd party software developers can create their own applications that can talk to HMRC’s systems. There is now an active market with hundreds of third party software products to help calculate and file tax returns online and software developers are already engaged with HMRC in shaping the future.
An API for tax and HMRC content
What we haven't had so far is an API for tax content. Legal publishers have often relied on manual (or semi-automatic) scraping of content from the HMRC website into their systems. The GOV.UK API should help to make all content on GOV.UK directly accessible to anyone who wishes to reuse it, including legal and tax publishers.
We are also building a taxonomy for tagging the tax content on GOV.UK which will also be accessible through the API so that third party systems can query particular parts of the tax content.