NAO wary of UK's e-gov plans

A horse to water

The UK Government is set to miss its target of migrating all its services online by 2005, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

It found that at November 2001, just over half of the 520 services which Government departments routinely provide to citizens and businesses were available on-line.

However, the NAO reports that the Government is likely to fall short of its target, especially in areas that require face-to-face contact.

Assessing the Government's progress so far, the NAO said that most of the e-services available today supply information rather than transactions, such as applying for a driving licence.

And the report warns that despite all the work so far, it's possible that punters just might not see any advantage in dealing with the Government electronically.

Even if people are keen to adopt e-government the NAO warns that some people may not be able to because they don't have the kit, know-how, or confidence to interact online.

Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said: "A significant amount of taxpayers’ money is being spent on delivering public services through electronic means.

"The major challenge is to get services on-line and to encourage and enable people to use them.

"Otherwise the considerable potential gains in departments’ efficiency will not be delivered and large amounts of public money will have been wasted," he said.

No one from the e-envoy's office - which is responsible for e-government - was available for comment at the time of writing. ®

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