TechnologyWarnings on e-gov spending ignored

Warnings on e-gov spending ignored

Warnings that the £671m of taxpayers money invested in getting local authorities online will result in ineffective systems are being ignored.

Link: PAC says e-gov takeup is stalling

Jim Haslem, president of local authorities user group, Society of Information Technology Managers (Socitm) said that targets had encouraged local authorities to get services online, but did not ensure the public would use them.

‘I’m confident that the targets will be met, but the strategy has to be far more ambitious to deliver real benefits to users,’ he said.

But the government is sticking to its original targets, a Cabinet Office spokesman confirmed.

Speaking at Intellect’s Local e-Government conference, Haslem called for the targets to measure customer satisfaction and integration with external agencies. Only through developing systems that are user friendly and able to link to external agencies would the systems deliver value for money, he said.

Currently around a fifth of councils were struggling with their strategy of getting online, said Andrew Webster, acting director of public research, at government watchdog, the Audit Commission.

Consequently they were concentrating on meeting targets without thinking of whether it would improve public access to services, he added.

‘It is deeply worrying for me that there is a compliance culture,’ he said. ‘There needs to be a sustainable business built on improving services, not meeting targets.’

Parliamentary under-secretary for the Deputy Prime Ministers Office, Christopher Leslie, acknowledged the need for ‘constant review’, and promised that the Minister charged with e-transformation of government, Douglas Alexander was ‘on top of it’.

But without substantive changes to the strategy, some councils will fail to use the money invested to improves services.

Some councils were improving the sophistication of their online capabilities, said Haslem, delivering transactional capabilities. But there is ‘some way to go’ before they would deliver real value to the public, he said.

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