Cabinet Office minister Douglas Alexander has announced that the UK will have a head of e-government from April.
The new online chief, to be appointed in the new year, will replace e-envoy Andrew Pinder, who has headed the government’s efforts to get people and services online by 2005 over the past four years.
“The head of e-government will play a pivotal role in supporting the prime minister’s vision for public service reform,” said Alexander. “Their task will be to focus on ensuring that IT supports the business transformation of government itself so that we can provide better, more efficient, public services.”
John Higgins, director general of IT supplier body Intellect, welcomed the announcement.
"We are happy that the government has ended the uncertainty about the future of the e-envoy's office,” he said. “The appointment of a head of e-government represents a natural progression in the role of the e-envoy's office, particularly as it seeks to address a key issue which needs rectifying - namely business process re-engineering within government."
The announcement came as trade secretary Patricia Hewitt published the UK Online Annual Report, which tracks the progress of online take-up.
The report revealed that 96% of Britain’s population are aware of a place where they can readily access the internet whether at home, at work, through mobile technology, or at a public access point. More than two-thirds of government services are now online and half of all internet users have also used government services and information online.
“Today’s report shows that we have made substantial progress over the last four years in extending the benefits of the internet to everyone who want access to it,” Hewitt said.
She also announced the creation of a “digital inclusion panel”, to be made up of high-profile private sector figures, which will advise government on how to boost take-up.
“The digital inclusion panel will play a key role in helping us ensure that every home in the UK should have a connection to online services through a digital network by 2008 – whether through a personal computer, DTV, mobile phone or other device,” she said.