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Govt e-troops rally round uninspiring leader

E-envoy in Yankee slang shocker

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The government e-envoy Andrew Pinder tried his best to put some life into his troops at the Government Computing annual conference in London today. Despite his brave words though, there remains an indisputable smell of mediocrity in the air.

Giving the keynote speech at the conference - held in the Business Design Centre and promising to offer "a greater understanding of the new initiatives and leading edge approaches" to e-government - Pinder slipped into New York-style argot. "We've got to walk the talk," he told lacklustre civil servants.

"E-government will change the way that citizens interact with government - forever. Getting the very best out of new technology means that we must innovate - not just automate," he continued.

No, please, Andrew, don't encourage them to come up with new ideas - they're having a hard enough time just copying everyone else.

He went on for a bit like this, spelling out the grand scheme that we've all heard mooted a hundred times before, and finishing with the killer line: "Good information age services will blur boundaries between layers of government, departments, sectors and nations. In order to stay ahead of the game we must plan now for the long term changing role of government."

Such is the government's IT record and so unlikely is it to win any awards that it has to rely on its own Government Computing Awards ceremony. We reckon that UK Online will sweep the board, mostly because it's the only one on the board.

Last week, yet another Home Office project was lambasted as a waste of money, and when we heard an important e-government site was being shut down, no one in Whitehall seemed to know who actually ran it. Also, we couldn't help but notice Kablenet - the "leading free, continuous e-government news service" is down at the moment.

Of course, if Andrew Pinder would like to put the record straight and persuade us of the government's e-success, we would still be delighted to talk to him. ®

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