E-envoy 'pragmatic' about targets

E-ENVOY Andrew Pinder told delegates at the Society of IT Management's (Socitm) annual conference to take a "pragmatic" approach...

E-ENVOY Andrew Pinder told delegates at the Society of IT Management's (Socitm) annual conference to take a "pragmatic" approach to e-government targets.

Speaking at the opening of the local authority user group's conference in Brighton on Sunday, Pinder indicated that he would be content to see only major services online by the target of 2005.

He urged Socitm members to first address "those transactions which were high in volume and would encourage take-up of electronic services". Pinder also called for councils to segment their customer base and market their services to appeal to different groups.

He highlighted customer segmentation as the key to rapid take-up of services and described it as vital to bridging the digital divide and reaching the 40% of the population which has never used the Internet.

Pinder's comments follow reports last week that 36% of councils have yet to produce a satisfactory Implementing Electronic Government statement - the first step towards getting services delivered online by the 2005 deadline.

The e-envoy also gave his support to groups of local authorities pooling resources to deliver common systems and services rather than duplicating e-government work.

In the light of the US terror attacks, Pinder emphasised security and said there was no point in building an electronic service that was not secure. He pointed to the Government Gateway as a secure means of access available to local authorities. "It is the kind of expensive wheel which definitely should not be reinvented," he said.

Socitm members asked Pinder about portals and the apparent competition between government, local government and others for the front-end business.

He replied that, while he was keen to see UK Online as a successful national citizen and business portal, it was just one of many possible ways of gaining access to services.

Pinder also spoke of his enthusiasm for engaging the voluntary sector in providing service access and promised £20m to Citizens Advice Bureaux to introduce electronic access.

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