Canadians to aid UK's e-gov plans

BT has announced a partnership with Canadian IT specialist CGI to help UK local authorities meet their 2005 target for getting...

BT has announced a partnership with Canadian IT specialist CGI to help UK local authorities meet their 2005 target for getting services online.

The two companies hope to exploit a "one-stop shop" model for accessing government services online that proved successful in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. The community facilities provide single-window access to services.

Canada is regarded as a world leader in the delivery of electronic services. A study by management consultancy Accenture described it as having the world's leading e-government.

BT will work with CGI to offer the service to local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales.

Brian Freeman, director of consulting services at CGI, predicted that the UK will eventually surpass Canada as the international leader in e-government. "Joined-up government can be done so much more easily [in the UK] than in the US or Canada where there is a federal system," he explained.

However, he stressed that the UK still needs to decide which financial models are needed to implement e-government at both central and local levels. This is a problem around the world, he added.

Last month, Labour MP Brian White told an IBM Computer Users' Association briefing that the e-commerce strategies of countries such as Canada are a good example of how government and the private sector can work together. One of the key lessons from the Canadian experience is that it is appropriate for the government to set the framework but not to do everything, he said.

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