E-government targets miss the point, council IT chiefs told

The government’s 2005 e-government target is doing little to encourage the take up of meaningful services, Derrick Anderson,...

The government’s 2005 e-government target is doing little to encourage the take up of meaningful services, Derrick Anderson, chief executive of Wolverhampton City Council, told delegates at the Society of IT Management’s annual conference on Monday.

He also warned that Implementing Electronic Government statements, which councils must complete to qualify for e-government funding, do not always address the question of how local people could benefit from technology.

“The general target of making all services available electronically by 2005 and the IEG statement approach achieves little more than encouraging people to tick boxes without looking at key questions as to whether electronic access has any value to our citizens,” he said.

“The real e-governance agenda should be on refocusing ICT and new technologies to change the way in which councils do things, so that we can provide services that are more relevant to how people live their lives.”

Anderson believed that his own council’s bereavement service is a good example of what can be achieved by tailoring IT to people's needs. Launched in 2001, the service links 12 separate agencies that local residents may need to contact when a bereavement takes place, from benefits to Inland Revenue.

One council IT manager attending the conference, who asked not to be named, was also sceptical about the 2005 target, and said that his focus was on improving services for local people. He said, “Making 100% of services available electronically is never going to happen."

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