Cabinet Office develops tool to solve problem that ‘important emails are hard to find’

Department to spend up to £300k developing service through Alpha phase


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By Sam Trendall

20 Aug 2019

The government is to develop a tool for sorting and filing emails sent to Whitehall officials.

The goal of the project is to solve the problem that “too many important emails that we need for the business of government are hard to find”.

“We risk damaging our productivity and reputation by not addressing our information management issues,” the Cabinet Office said.


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The department has published a contract notice seeking a supplier to work with a small internal team to develop an email-sorting tool through its Alpha phase. The service should be able to “import emails and categorise them against criteria for retention, sensitivity and topic area”. This will be done, the notice said, by using “pre-defined ontologies [and] taxonomies”.

Having sorted and filed the emails, “this service should then help civil servants manage their inbox and help keep linked and useful records of government business”.

The Cabinet Office has set aside a budget of between £200,000 and £300,000 to be spent over four months of work on developing the service. The chosen supplier will work alongside a small internal team of three people – a technology lead, product manager, and service owner – that have undertaken a Discovery phase researching the problem and possible solutions.

Work to develop the tool forms part of the Better Information for Better Government programme, a scheme launched in 2017 to review how civil servants store and manage digital records.

“This is a cross-government initiative to improve how government manages its digital information and facilitates collaboration online,” the notice said. “The Cabinet Office is leading work to adapt core processes and attitudes to information in departments to fit with new digital ways of working in the 21st century civil service.”

Bids for the work are open until 28 August, after which up four suppliers are expected to be evaluated.

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