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UK local authorities are unconfident that 100 percent of services will be e-enabled by the government's deadline of 2005, a Datamonitor study reveals.

The UK government has encouraged the use of e-government to transform services, renew local democracy and promote local economic vitality, and has confirmed that all councils will receive a capital grant of £200,000 to assist them in becoming e-enabled.

But the study, titled "Technology Opportunities in the UK Public Sector," said that 36 percent of local authorities believed they would not meet the implementation of electronic government (IEG) requirements by 2005.

In an explanation of the problem with roll out, Kathleen Klasnic, senior analyst at Datamonitor, referred to the three tier council system in the UK.

The first tier consists of councils in large cities, such as London, Birmingham and Manchester, which she said are IT savvy and have used the funding they received well. The second tier comprises councils in smaller towns, such as Portsmouth and Bristol, also fairly IT savvy but have started later and tend to have reduced funds.

The third tier is small rural areas and seems to be where the main problem lies. "These tend to lack both the necessary in-house IT expertise and the funds necessary to fully meet e-government requirements. Compounding the problem is that the government often penalises laggards with regard to funding. More cuts don't help," Klasnic added.

Nevertheless, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has said that those authorities who do not meet the requirements may find themselves short-funded. But Datamonitor notes that the trouble is not just with funding. In fact, the survey showed that many councils thought guidance would be most helpful in hastening e-government. According to the report, 73 percent of councils cited guidance as important while 92 percent of councils cited funding as key.

© ENN

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