UK slipping down e-government league tables

Whitehall must rapidly drive up use of its online services to maintain its position in the front rank of global e-government,...

Whitehall must rapidly drive up use of its online services to maintain its position in the front rank of global e-government, according to a new report from consultancy Accenture.

It must also make the transformation from a basic online presence to meaningful interaction and transaction with citizens, the E-government leadership: Engaging the customer report warned.

In the UK, "e-government progress has slowed," Accenture claimed. "We have seen few examples of services maturing over the past 12 months.  The overall depth of service offered online is below the average of countries assessed in this study," it added.

The UK has dropped from 6th to 8th in Accenture's fourth annual study, which looked at the online provision of 200 central government services in more than 20 countries round the world.

Steve Dempsey, e-government partner at Accenture, said the UK had made substantial progress. Infrastructure projects, such as the Government Gateway and UKOnline portals and efforts to drive up broadband use have laid the groundwork for successful e-government.

But, he said, Department of Trade and Industry figures show just one in 10 Britons with Internet access have used government services online.

The level of take-up in Canada, which Dempsey said was head and shoulders above the rest of the world in the delivery of e-government, was more than 50%.

Despite slipping down the global rankings, Demspey said the UK was making good strides towards effective e-government but he called for more focus on driving up usage.

Ministers and civil servants recognise this need and initiatives are being introduced to revitalise the e-government programme, he added.

Targets are already changing to reflect the shift from just getting services online to improving service delivery and measuring take-up. The government is also looking to encourage take-up with more user-friendly sites; marketing campaigns; and the provision of multiple channels of access to services, including kiosks such as Job Centre Plus.

The government was also starting to look for private sector partners and intermediaries, including banks, accountants and estate agents to drive up e-government use.


Read more on IT for government and public sector