Councils may not achieve 2005 online service target

Many local authorities are behind schedule and will not hit the government's target of putting public services online by 2005, a...

Many local authorities are behind schedule and will not hit the government's target of putting public services online by 2005, a survey of local authority chief executives has revealed.

Of the 50 members polled by the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (Solace), 56% did not believe their organisations would be e-enabled by 2005.

The survey comes one month after local authority IT directors' organisation Socitm warned that councils may have to sideline large IT projects to improve essential services because of a shortfall in funding.

The respondents identified technical complexity (56%), lack of funds (52%) and cultural resistance by staff (48%) as three main obstacles to hitting the target.

The survey, supported by Oracle, also identified potential pitfalls once e-government services are established, including lack of public awareness (26%) and low adoption among government, users and businesses (24%).

David Clark, director general of Solace, said, "Our joint research highlighted the need for central government to help local authorities. Although we recognise that e-government is just one of several government priorities, without sufficient support, these targets will not be met."

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which is responsible for the e-government agenda, has already allocated £675m to help councils to deliver e-government services, more than half of which has already been doled out. But Socitm president Fahri Zihni said this would not be enough. "Socitm estimated that we need about £2bn, so that is a £1.3bn funding shortfall," he said.

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