Uphill struggle to meet e-government targets



Central and local government could struggle to meet Tony Blair's e-government targets, according to a survey conducted by outsourcer CMG, and they could face...



Central and local government could struggle to meet Tony Blair's e-government targets, according to a survey conducted by outsourcer CMG, and they could face demands for extra funding to make it happen.

CMG's survey of visitors to the Government Computing conference earlier this year revealed that 48% of respondents' departments still did not have any form of e-commerce with their suppliers or citizens.

The survey polled 200 IT professionals working in central and local government. Almost two-thirds of them reported that less than half of their department or organisation's information was accessible online by citizens or firms.

Worryingly for ministers, this shows little change on the same time last year. A further sign of potential problems was the slight fall in the numbers of public sector professionals saying they thought electronic government would radically reshape UK government, according to John Nodder, e-government consultant at CMG.

Nodder said the fall from 90% last year to 85% this year "reflects people starting to adjust from initial optimism to the reality of the task ahead".

He added: "The targets have been brought forward from 2008 to 2005. People are realising they are further down the line of trying to make it happen and are now beginning to ask how they will pay for it."

Martin Greenwood, consultant at Socitm, the local authority IT managers' organisation, agreed. "Most people in IT have been waiting a long time for the Government to set targets like these, but they are putting more strain on the systems," he said.

Greenwood said that although the Government has made funds available through the Invest to Save budget, "it is just start-up money. We need a more consistent approach to funding."

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