https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2017/12/14/why-government-email-is-changing-for-the-better/

Why government email is changing (for the better)

If you work in a government department or a local authority, you’ll more than likely have an email address that has the letters ‘.gsi’ in it. It’s been a part of most of our email addresses for more than 20 years now, but in today’s world it’s become restrictive.

So, we’re going to drop the ‘.gsi’ from email addresses across government and move away from the old infrastructure that it’s fixed to. Its use will be phased out over the coming year, and we expect that no one will use a ‘.gsi’ email address after March 2019.

Organisations will instead use their own domain, such as gov.uk, gov.scot, llyw.cymru, gov.wales or another, more suitable, domain.

You’ll be hearing from your organisation about when and how it’s going to happen, and what it means for you, but we’re expecting this change will have very little impact on you or the way you work.

What’s in a name?

The gsi-family of email domains (we also use gcsx.gov.uk, gse.gov.uk or gsx.gov.uk) and the underlying private government network, called the Government Secure Internet, began in 1996. It was introduced so that government agencies could communicate in a secure and reliable way.

Image of two hands on a computer keyboard

Of course, things have moved on a long way since those relatively early days of the internet.

Email security is now built into the messaging services that government uses every day, so there are far better and more efficient ways of achieving the security levels government needs.

These email domains are also fixed to a legacy network infrastructure that has become costly, restrictive and cumbersome to maintain. Migrating away from it gives far more flexibility and commercial control to departments and local authorities.

Many government organisations have already started to migrate, but we’ve now set a deadline to ensure organisations complete their migration.

Email is one of the easiest and most widely used ways for government to interact with citizens. Moving away from ‘.gsi’ will help increase citizens’ confidence in the authenticity of emails they receive from government.

Next steps

Organisations across government are now working on their migration plans and will be contacting their staff to let them know when and how the changes will happen, but you won’t need to do anything as there will be nominated people in your organisation who will make all the necessary changes.

Government Digital Service (GDS) and the National Cyber Security Centre are providing guidance and technical support to help organisations and will provide support where organisations may not be able to complete the process in time.

When your organisation is ready to implement this change, your organisation’s nominated contacts will tell you about what’s changing and when, but people will see little change to their working practices. The old and new domains will work concurrently, so no emails will be lost or undelivered, and centrally managed contact lists and distribution lists will be updated automatically.

Ending the dependency on ‘.gsi’, and migrating to a new domain will ensure that the security of government emails continues, the likelihood of falsified email addresses decreases, and that departments and local authorities have more control over the commercial aspect of which email system they use.

'Improved outcomes' graphic with handwritten legendWe think it’s a great move for government and for citizens, but if you think there may be issues with moving your email address please let your team know as soon as they contact you about your local change plan.

8 comments

  1. Comment by Emily Ch'ng posted on

    Really interesting, thank you for this explanation! I approve of dropping the .gsi to make shorter, simpler email addresses.

  2. Comment by Hadley posted on

    Do you have evidence that it will make people trust in govt email more?

  3. Comment by Paul posted on

    "Moving away from ‘.gsi’ will help increase citizens’ confidence in the authenticity of emails they receive from government."
    A strange and unsubstantiated statement - moving away from a format that has been in use for over 20 years to a more generic format.....? How could that possibly make something more authentically UK govt? Cheaper perhaps - but less valuable for authenticity.

  4. Comment by c posted on

    The penultimate paragraph tells us what this is really about: useing something cheaper.

    "and that departments and local authorities have more control over the commercial aspect of which email system they use,"

  5. Comment by David Edwards posted on

    One of the barriers to delivering this is the "naming and registering websites" policy https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/naming-and-registering-government-websites/central-government-naming-and-registering-websites. Whilst this is/was originally written around websites with the worthy aim to reduce the number of websites across govt, its being applied to DOMAINS. The problem is this,

    For the past few years government orgs have been discouraged from having websites and centralised around gov.uk, which is fine. However whilst they have not been allowed a new someorg.gov.uk domain for their website they have been provided a someorg.gsi.gov.uk domain for their email. Now they need a domain for their email, they need to "plead" to GDS for a domain, but are being told no as they dont meet the criteria.

    The options are @someorg.majorbody.gov.uk or maybe @someorg.independnt.gov.uk, thats not always good as many orgs have very long organisational names and or need to be viewed as independent. For example.

    "Her majesties inspector of very long names" might currently be HMIVLN.gsi.gov.uk but they are not allowed to be HMIVLN.gov.uk because its an acronym (not allowed). They dont want to be HMIVLN.majorbody.gov.uk because they need to be seen as independent. even hmivln.indpenent.gov.uk domains are not forthcoming. And an email address of someone@hermajestiesinspectorofverylongnames.gov.uk doesn't really feel like a "user need"

    Some depts are lucky, they have a .gov.uk domain that they prior to the domain policy and can simply blow the dust of it and use it, however many smaller Arms Length Bodies (ALB) have been consolidated/rebranded so done have anything "handy" that still applies.

    I would really like some acknowledgement of the problem re this and some form of consistent message and way forward that meets user needs and isn't based entirley around a policy of website rationalisation from 5 years ago.

  6. Comment by Rodger Whitefield posted on

    Presumably all of ther single sign on functionality and all of the applications that we use that require a .gsi address will be upated too to accept the new email addresses...?

  7. Comment by James Cattell posted on

    Can I have james.cattell@gov.uk please? I'll happily come help make it happen