The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) claimed core purpose is to improve the current and future quality of life. This one department brings together the interests of farmers and the countryside; the environment and the rural economy; the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink. In October 2004, around 300 DEFRA IT employees were transferred to IBM in a seven-year, £1.4 billion e-enabling contract. This was part of the government’s policy to devolve the delivery of rural services away from the main Whitehall department to local and regional bodies. IBM’s responsibility is to develop national systems and manage DEFRA’s desktop infrastructure and business applications.
The foundation of the programme is three data repositories created around DEFRA’s primary areas of responsibility – land, animals and customers.
Information held in the repositories will be available to anyone who needs to use it to deliver rural, environmental or land policy, including agencies, non-departmental public bodies and regional development agencies.
In April 2007, DEFRA relaunched its public website, giving it a fresher look and making it more consistent and easier to maintain. This is part of ongoing work to improve its wide-range of websites, making them more user friendly in response to customer needs and more compliant with Web Accessibility Initiative standards.