UK egov plays catch-up with Europe

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But although the number of online public services has increased by 12 per cent to 62% since October last year, analysts warn the UK will have its work cut out to meet its “tough” 2005 deadline.

Graham Colclough, global egovernment lead at CGEY, said the issue was now more about usage than availability.

‘It will be a challenge and opinion suggests there will be some organisations that will struggle to achieve it. The number one issue is about changing hearts and minds,’ he said.

The research, conducted on behalf of the European Union, compares the performance of 18 countries including the 15 European Union members.

It identifies four stages of development. Stage one means information is available online, followed by one-way interaction at stage two, two-way interaction at stage third and finally full electronic case handling.

The lead group, made up of Denmark, Ireland, Finland and Sweden, has already reached stage three, and have all achieved over 75% availability of services online.

‘The first tier contains four countries that are more nimble with smaller populations and the internet is more urgent because their populations are more geographically dispersed,’ Colclough said.

The UK has reached stage two of the adoption model, alongside countries including Spain, France, Norway and Portugal.

But Cap Gemini said almost all countries had moved on a stage compared to last year.

The Office of e-Envoy said a focus on the citizen, and not just the technology, would help boost uptake in services going forward. ‘By putting the citizen at the heart of this transformation, designing services around their needs and requirements, we will see a rise in levels of use of e-government services,’ a spokeswoman said.

A Local Government Information Unit spokesman said ensuring that organisations were properly equipped and staff are properly trained, was a bigger concern to adoption.

‘All of us should lead by example in our various roles in public service by pushing egovernment forward wherever the opportunity exists, even if to begin with it has a minority audience,’ he said.

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