Local authority progress heads e-ministry report

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Local authority progress heads e-ministry report

Bruce Ackland
Progress in modernising local government heads the e-minister and e-envoy's monthly report to Tony Blair.

The final monthly review before the 2001 Annual Report celebrates the surprisingly high number of local authorities that met the deadline for completing the Implementing Electronic Government (IEG) statement.

More than 99% of councils have submitted an IEG statement to the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions.

Simon Berlin, e-government manager at Lewisham council, said: "The 99% figure for return of IEG statements is remarkable when you reflect on the level of commitment to the e-government agenda across all of local government this time last year, when many councils did not consider it to be a central strategic issue."

Many council IT directors saw completing IEG statements as a time-consuming and unnecessary additional hurdle to meeting tough e-government targets.

In the run-up to the 31 July deadline, e-government solution providers and analysts predicted that as many as 60% of councils would miss the closing date.

September's report also informs the Prime Minister that a further 14 e-government commitments have been completed, while an additional two have fallen behind schedule.

Issued on the day the Government Gateway was temporarily shut down as a result of a fire at a contractor's data centre, the e-minister and e-envoy highlight the first citizen transaction using the Gateway, Self Assessment, and reveal that the development of a policy makers' guide to e-commerce and legislation is on course.

It says: "The idea is to set out principles for policy makers to ensure that new and amended legislation/regulations do not damage or unduly burden the e-commerce industry."

The principles of the framework are to be published in the UK Online Annual Report.

On the issue of broadband, the report admits that business and residential take-up has been poor but sees encouragement in NTL-Telewest's Building Broadband Britain advertising campaign and BT's plans to reduce the cost of installation for consumers with the launch of a self-install ADSL service.

There are also plans to examine the bridging of the digital divide with the help of newly commissioned qualitative research among non-users and new users, in a report due by the end of September.

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