We are going to miss 2005 e-government deadline, warn local authorities

Most local authorities are behind schedule in hitting the government’s target of putting public services online by 2005, a survey...

Most local authorities are behind schedule in hitting the government’s target of putting public services online by 2005, a survey of local authority chief executives has revealed.

The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (Solace) polled 50 of its members and revealed that 56% of respondents did not believe that services would be fully e-enabled within their own organisation by 2005.

The survey comes a month after the local authority IT organisation Socitm warned that councils may have to sideline large IT projects designed to improve essential services because of a shortfall of hundreds of millions of pounds in e-government funding.

The chief executives and senior managers questioned by Solace identified technical complexity (56%), lack of funds (52%) and cultural resistance from staff (48%) as the three main obstacles local authorities must overcome to meet the deadline.

The survey, supported by Oracle, also identified potential pitfalls that local authorities may face once e-government services are established, including lack of broader awareness of the benefits (26%) and low adoption among government, citizens and businesses (24%).

David Clark, director general of Solace, said, "Our joint research highlights the need for central government to help local authorities achieve their joined-up government objectives. We recognise that e-government is just one of several government priorities, however without sufficient support these targets will not be met."

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which is responsible for implementing the local e-government agenda, has already allocated £675m to be spent between 2002 and 2006 to help councils deliver e-government services, more than half of which has already been doled out.

But Socitm president Fahri Zihni believes that this is not enough. "It is estimated at Socitm that we need about £2bn for e-government, so that is a £1.3bn funding shortfall," he said.

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