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We face a battle, says e-government minister

James Rogers
The government has a fight on its hands to ensure that the public uses the electronic services being rolled out across the public sector.

That was the admission of junior minister Christopher Leslie at the Government Computing 2003 conference in London.

“One of the main challenges we are facing is to convert to obvious enthusiasm in the country for electronic services in to take-up of online government services,” he told delegates.

“People in the UK are not engaging with government as readily as they buy online or bank online,” he warned.

Leslie, however, believes that this trend is changing and pointed to the fact that more than 110,000 people opted for electronic voting methods in last month’s local elections.

“The local government elections last month show that e-government can catch the public’s interest if it is well advertised,” he said.

But delegates at the conference warned that the government must be prepared to allocate more funds if it is to achieve Leslie's goal.

One local government IT manager said, “I don’t think that the government is doing enough – it needs to be pumping more money into that area.”

Another delegate said, “The government has got to put more into marketing these services – most people don’t even know that half of this stuff is available.”

Last year an international benchmarking report from Booz Allen Hamilton found that the UK lagged behind its competitors in terms of getting citizens to use online services.


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