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UN warns of e-gov ‘white elephants’

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E-government isn't all it's cracked up to be, according to a United Nations report published yesterday.

Ever since the hype of the dotcom boom politicians in both the developing and the developed worlds have looked at how technology can help deliver public services.

But according to a report - United Nations World Public Sector Report 2003: E-Government at the Crossroads - the growth of e-gov has "not gone entirely smoothly".

The report warns that a "too-grandiose approach" to e-government could result in failure or "white elephants" that cost tax payers dearly.

"Because of a high rate of failure of specific e-government projects in developed, as well as developing, countries, bricks-and-mortar public services need to be maintained even as digital applications are increasing," warns the report.

What's worse, it seems that people are releuctant to touch base with government electronically.

The report estimates that in most countries, only one in five of those with Net access actually engages with the government online, with issues such as security and privacy proving to be major stumbling blocks.

The report also expresses particular concern about lack of access by women, by the poor and other disadvantaged groups. ®

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