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E-envoy gets the chop

'Head of e-Government' appointed instead

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The UK Government's post of "e-envoy", currently held by Andrew Pinder, is to be ditched and replaced with a new job - "Head of e-Government".

Four years after the position was first created "to champion e-commerce" in the UK and "spearhead a wake-up call to British business", the Government has decided it's time to change tack.

Douglas Alexander, Minister for the Cabinet Office, reckons the appointment of a Head of e-Government represents an "evolution in the e-envoy role which will build on the achievements of the last four years".

"The Head of e-Government will play a pivotal role in supporting the Prime Minister’s vision for public service reform. Their task will be to focus on ensuring that IT supports the business transformation of Government itself so that we can provide better, more efficient, public services."

Recruitment for the new post is expected to begin early in the New Year.

Elsewhere, the Government has published its fourth UK Online annual report, which shows, apparently, that the UK "remains one of the best connected economies in the world".

That's because almost all of the population has - or knows where to find - access to the Net. What's more, the report maintains that the UK remains "one of the best environments in the world for e-commerce" with e-transactions topping £23 billion last year.

The report is also upbeat about the accelerating uptake of broadband and improvements in the availability of high-speed Net access. What's more, it says that more than two-thirds of government services are now online with more than half of all Net users having used government services and information online.

Despite this progress the Government is still concerned that more must be done to bridge the "digital divide". That's why the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and e-Minister, Patricia Hewitt, announced plans for a private sector-led "Digital Inclusion Panel", which will advise Government on how to get more people to hook up to the Net and digital television.

Said Ms Hewitt: "While it is great news that so many people have access to the Internet, we must continue to bridge the digital divide.

"The Digital Inclusion Panel will play a key role in helping us ensure that every home in the UK should have a connection to online services through a digital network by 2008 – whether through a personal computer, DTV, mobile phone or other device." ®

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