E-government to save local authorities up to £320m

The UK government is promising local authorities that they will save around £320m a year by implementing its local e-government...

The UK government is promising local authorities that they will save around £320m a year by implementing its local e-government national projects.

On top of sizable savings, councils could increase total revenues by £60m a year, while delivering service improvements worth £1.3bn, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) said. Those figures are the average in a range for each category, according to a spokesman from the National Projects Programme.

The ODPM is basing its claims on a study it commissioned from the French IT consulting and services specialist Capgemini, which looked at six of the 22 national projects the government is promoting as part of its push to deliver local e-government by 2005. Capgemini has a contract to do work in the UK's e-government initiative.

The six projects studied were: CRM; workflow; local authority websites (called LAWs); mobile working (called Nomad); online planning and regulatory services; and council tax and business rate valuation (Valuebill).

"These programmes were chosen for study because they are a good sample for the programme as a whole and because they are the most well developed of all the programmes," said a spokesman from the National Projects Programme.

The government has long pushed e-government's benefits, though it has struggled to meet its own deadline of putting all government services online by the end of 2005. Analysts have long warned that the government will be unable to reach its targets.

Last year, IDC published a report stating that the UK government was falling behind its European counterparts in providing its citizens with e-government services.

Forrester Research also published its own findings that the government would fail to reach the 2005 self-imposed deadline, partly because it does not understand how to work with fast moving, small e-commerce vendors and how to build partnerships.

But the government continues to assert it is on the right track, though privately sources concede the 2005 deadline is now simply more of a guideline.

The ODPM set up the local e-government National Projects Programme to help all local authorities achieve the 2005 local e-government targets and develop a vision for e-government within their own authorities. The funding comes from the ODPM, but the National Projects are run by local authorities for the benefit of other local authorities.

The National Projects Programme spokesman said the government does not know exact numbers in terms of which councils adopted what programmes, but said that 80% of councils "are already involved in at least one national project".

The spokesman said that "involvement" went beyond simply enquiring about a programme, but did not necessarily include commitment to implement.

The 22 national projects also include a DigitalTV programme that would enable councils to run an interactive digital TV channel to publish information and conduct polls.

Representatives from Capgemini could not immediately be reached for comment.

Laura Rohde writes for IDG News Service

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