Resource-strapped local authorities are facing a fresh skills crisis that could stop them delivering Tony Blair's Modernising Government agenda.
The bleak warning is the key finding of a major report looking at the skills market in local government and councils' ability to meet the challenges posed by the Internet and e-business.
Councils had to contend with a huge IT skills drain during the run-up to Y2K which left many authorities struggling because of poaching by their cash-rich private sector counterparts.
The new report, Services at risk? - The growing shortages of ICT skills, says the increasing gap between supply and demand for Internet IT skills "may well compromise our [councils'] ability to implement the modernisation of local government and deliver the services that citizens and consumers expect".
Socitm, the body for public sector IT managers which published the report, believes the coming period will provide more challenges for local authorities than the run up to year 2000.
"The skills required for the year 2000 problem were generally easier to define, relating as they did mainly to old technologies. We are now being pitchforked into a much more uncertain world of new skills, far less easy to specify," the report says.
Socitm pooled experience from their own members, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers, The Society of Chief Personnel Officers, leading IT recruitment specialists Spring Group and salary survey specialists Computer Economics.