Councils ‘sceptical’ about e-gov

Best 'wait and see' instead

The Government's big idea to digitise essential public sector services looks to be falling out of favour as local councils decide to wait and see before spending taxpayers' money on e-government projects such as online procurement and e-voting initiatives.

It seems local authorities are reluctant to commit to major IT initiatives until such schemes have been carried out elsewhere and are proven to work.

Worse still, a number of council IT departments are either "indifferent" or "sceptical" about some of the technologies currently being touted by central Government and the IT industry, according to analysis by eGov monitor.

Areas singled out include interactive digital television services, smartcard systems, e-democracy tools and Whitehall's own flagship e-government project, the Government Gateway.

This downbeat assessment of e-government in the UK - which throws further doubt on the Government's target of e-enabling all services by 2005 - follows analysis of 100 submissions made by local authorities.

Said Joe Organ, of eGov monitor: "Our analysis possibly shows that for the UK at least, a one-size-fits-all 'blanket approach' to the task of implementing e-government at local level is distinctly unsuitable."

This month a United Nations' report questioned the effectiveness of e-government claiming that its growth had "not gone entirely smoothly".

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

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