The government's targets for putting public services such as tax collection online has been dismissed as unrealistic and misguided by an influential group of MPs.
The Public Administration Committee, which includes MPs from all parties, says the government should stop focusing on how to get public services online.
Instead, its biggest challenge is persuading the public to use the internet to access these services.
The comments followed a report from the Department of Trade and Industry, which complained of ‘a slight whiff of unreality in the electronic government agenda’.
The report also claimed that the government was putting too many services online to meet targets, without regard to take-up by consumers.
Persuading consumers to use the internet to access public services will require concentrated attention at a local and national level. ‘Actively developing the electronic usage of government websites and internet facilities will require involvement by all departments and agencies,’ said the report.
A single UK government portal should be established to give consumers a simple way of accessing multiple services, the committee said. It added that such a centralised approach could make massive savings.
It also recommended offering a one-stop-shop service to consumers such as pensioners, in their own homes.
However, there must be action to make data sharing by government agencies more acceptable to the public, the committee warned.
First published in Computing