The Times, 3 May 2007
The Times printed a letter from a registrar claiming that the new Registration Online system for births and deaths had met with 'total system failure'. Peter Murphy wrote to point out that the system was still working well in many areas and many registrars not using it actually wanted to return to it.
Mr Thomas (letters, May 3) says the introduction of a new online registration system, known as RON, to record details of births and deaths has met with 'complete system failure', with an implication that the public are suffering major inconvenience. This is not the case.
Design and procurement of the system have been the responsibility of the General Register Office (GRO), part of the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The arrangements for testing, piloting and installation of the system in local offices have been overseen by a steering group comprising staff of GRO and representatives of local authorities, including the local authority co-ordinators of regulatory services (LACORS).
This new system to record details of birth and death registrations was introduced in all districts of England and Wales in mid-March. Although the new system has not operated well in some areas, it has been received very positively in a number of others, to the extent that some registrars not currently able to use it are extremely keen to be allowed to.
When fully operational the new system will provide a much quicker and more efficient way of enabling registration data to be brought together, replacing some old technology and saving time and resources in both registration offices and GRO. It was not intended that the public should notice any difference in the excellent service they have generally enjoyed when visiting registration offices to record key life events.
ONS very much regrets that the system has not operated effectively in all areas, and that a small number of people registering events will have experienced some delays when reporting births and deaths in the period immediately after the system was installed. The problems have occurred despite extensive piloting and testing in advance of full implementation. It was always intended to retain the systems for recording registrations previously in use by registrars. It is therefore possible for authorities to revert to those systems, if necessary, and deal with registrations as before.
Given that the system is operating satisfactorily in a number of areas, ONS remains confident that it will soon be successfully implemented in all parts of England and Wales. However, even greater care will be needed to ensure that it is not reintroduced in any areas if it will not immediately perform at acceptable levels. We are not therefore currently estimating the date by which full roll-out will be completed, other than to acknowledge that it could be some months.
Head of Registration
General Register Office