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Most local authority IT managers reckon e-government programmes will translate into real benefits for citizens, by creating multi-channel access to better quality council services, according to the Society of IT Managers' annual survey of its members.

However, some councils report that the focus on national e-government is distorting local priorities for service development. New guidance issued in England on "priority outcomes" came too late, and that changing course has been challenging, they say. Despite this, most report high levels of optimism about meeting the government's 2005 deadline for having council services online.

The survey, which is published in full on 9 December, shows that councils plan to increase IT spending. SoCITM estimates that £600m will have been invested in 2004 for new IT equipment, software and services. Total spending will top £2.7bn, as more than 900 new IT positions are created.

Socitm president Chris Guest, head of technology at Flintshire County Council, said the survey confirmed anecdotal evidence that ICT managers are "increasingly involved in the wider management of the councils, and that they are playing a key role is helping their organisations develop services, improve performance and plan investment".

Local authorities also seem to be handling corporate governance issues quite comfortably. As many as 85 per cent of authorities recorded that they have formal risk management approaches in place or under development. An additional ten per cent said they have plans to introduce risk management in the future.

Copies of the report IT Trends 2004/5 - Grand Designs, will be available on December 9. Click here for more info. ®

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