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UK's first digital government head, Andrew Pinder, dies

Pinder was responsible for pushing the UK broadband agenda and starting the ball rolling on the digitisation of government services

Andrew Pinder, the former e-government envoy who was responsible for the UK’s first digital government strategy, has died at the age of 69, following a short illness.

The idea of citizens communicating with government digitally is now well underway, but in the early 2000s it was a completely new concept.

In 2006, Pinder replaced John Roberts as the chair of Becta, the government agency that oversees the use of IT in schools and colleges.

Pinder also worked as IT director at the Inland Revenue and headed IT for a number of financial institutes. During his time at the Inland Revenue, he was responsible for the digitisation of PAYE, regarded as the largest IT project in Europe at the time.

Speaking to Computer Weekly in 2003 about the role of the e-Envoy’s office, Pinder said the work done across government on opening up the broadband market had been extraordinary. “In the year to March 2003, the UK had the fastest growth of broadband penetration in the G7 group of nations at more than 350%.

“The UK has also been transformed from having some of the most expensive broadband to some of the most competitive costs of all benchmarked nations, dropping between 10% and 14% in the past six months alone,” said Pinder.

“In addition, the creation of more than 6,000 UK online centres has been fundamental in bringing the internet to the community.”

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“Current research shows that opportunities to physically access the internet are now no further away than the public library,” he said. “Research by the Oxford Internet Institute has found that 96% of the population know where they can get online.”

Pinder said his office had also generated debate about e-democracy and done some “world-class work” on setting common standards such as the e-Gif interoperability framework.

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