IT is in a unique position to drive business and cultural change in local government, thanks to the strides made towards the electronic delivery of public services.
That was the claim made by Jim Haslem, chief executive of the Local E-Government Standards Authority, and former chairman of Socitm, ahead of the local government IT directors' organisation's Spring Seminar on Thursday.
Haslem said the e-government project, launched by Tony Blair in 2000, was now moving away from purely implementing technology. "The main issues are around cultural and organisational change and developing more effective and efficient ways of doing things," he said. "The whole agenda will become how to exploit the technology councils have by embedding it into more effective processes."
According to Haslem, most councils are on track to meet the prime minister's target to get all local government services online by December 2005. However, he said there were still problems in linking local government processes to Whitehall's e-government processes.
"All through this process there has been a real and continuing issue in the joining up of central government departments. This is not new and will not be resolved quickly or easily," said Haslem. "Local government is at the sharp end: central government may be focused on one process, but local government has to draw the threads together, and it is finding that central government is not always working hand-in-glove."
The e-government programme has created more interest in IT in local government, but IT professionals have still had to work to use this to bolster their status, Haslem said.
"The leadership and funding from central government has helped, but our status is determined by the ability of IT to exploit the investments that have been made,"he said.
The Socitm Spring Seminar is set to showcase 14 national pathfinder e-government projects and offer help to those ITmanagers still struggling to meet targets, said Haslem, who will chair the conference.