Tuesday, 8 July 2008

DOVE and MAGPIE to fly no more?

The English and Welsh General Register Office, based in Southport, has announced that its three year contract with Siemens IT to deliver digital facsimiles of all birth, marriage and death records (back to 1837) is not to be extended beyond the end of this month, when it expires. The project, known as DOVE (Digitisation of Vital Events), was one of three named on a bird theme - MAGPIE (MultiAccess to GRO Public Index of Events), which was to provide an improved online index system to the general public, and EAGLE (Electronic Access to GRO Legacy Events), the GRO's internal access point to these images. To date, only half of the images have been scanned (130 million), but there is now serious doubt as to whether the project will ever see completion.

The DOVE certificates were not to be made online, rather they were designed to speed up the despatch time for customers ordering them from the office in Southport, which was recently integrated into the Identity and Passport Service. MAGPIE was conditional on the completion of DOVE.

The London based Society of Genealogists has expressed its extreme disappointment at the announcement, having liaised with the GRO for the last three years over the project. The Federation of Family History Societies states on its website that with the three projects being named after certain birds "it is tempting to think of the whole planning exercise as having been bird brained".

An emergency internal strategic review is to report its findings by the end of September.

(With thanks to Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, the SoG and the FFHS).


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