The e-government services market needs a regulator to develop projects in partnership with the private sector and to create a protective environment for innovation.
That is the conclusion of research by Kable Research and sponsored by SchlumbergerSema on the progress of a ‘mixed economy’ model for e-government, where many services can be delivered through private sector channels.
The Performance and Innovation Unit first raised the involvement of the private sector in a report, E-government services in the 21st Century, in 2000 and suggesting ideas including getting passports through the Post Office, banks or travel agents.
But Charles Leadbetter, analyst at Kable Research, said progress has been slow because of the immaturity of services and caution from the private sector.
A regulator, similar to OFCOM in broadcasting, to encourage new entrants and enable sharing of information is needed, he said.
‘Progress has been much slower than expected. A lot of big companies are very wary of having their business associated with public services which they have no control over but will be blamed for if it goes wrong,’ he said.
He argued the current framework for the government dealing contracting suppliers for specific services does not suit the innovative and entrepreneurial partnerships needed to create viable public/private e-government services.
The government e-envoy, Andrew Pinder, said the government is looking at how to encourage participation from the private sector.
‘We are trying to draw up rules of engagement and there are proposals circulating internally about how to create that protective environment. The private sector should also see it as an opportunity for their brands to be enhanced,’ he said.
Pinder said services that require lower levels of authentication, such as the renewal of passports, are likely to be the first services to be available through high street private sector partners.
The research, based on 20 interviews with senior representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors, also called for the creation of an ‘e-government innovation club’ for private sector IT companies, start-ups, policy makers and voluntary sector organisations to meet.
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