GOV.UK underwent a ‘firebreak’ period for a month, during which routine work was suspended to focus on pressing issues and opportunities for improvement. This disruption allowed the team to address technical debt, improve tools, and enhance the site’s performance. A number of projects were undertaken, including work on the site’s publishing platform, Whitehall, and the introduction of A/B testing.

The firebreak period also enabled the team to experiment with new ideas and technologies. The ‘Data informed content’ team, for instance, used machine learning to identify content that could be archived, thereby improving the site’s navigability. The ‘Finding Things’ team experimented with tagging to make content more discoverable.

Feedback from the team was positive, with members appreciating the chance to work on different projects and learn new skills. The firebreak also highlighted the need for more regular opportunities to address technical debt and improve tools. As a result, there are plans to incorporate more frequent ‘firebreak’ periods into the team’s schedule.

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