UK only eighth in e-government stakes

The report, from consultant Accenture, claims that although they are improving, government websites still lag behind those operated by private sector firms in delivering services.

Of those examined, Canada leads the way, Singapore and the US were ranked as ‘innovators’, while Norway, Australia, Finland, The Netherlands and the UK were labelled ‘visionary followers’.

Accenture said that the leaders had started early, built their presence around what the citizen wants to do rather than the agency organisation, and had deployed customer relationship management technology.

They had also adopted a portal approach and were trying to include complex services instead of concentrating on taking each department online first.

Canada was praised for its cross-agency approach to e-government through its portal, which provides a gateway for Canadian citizens, businesses and non-Canadians to access major services.

However, the survey criticised many governments for being slow to build portals.

‘It is not citizen friendly to require visits to individual sites, just as they would have visited a range of physical facilities to conduct businesses,’ it said. ‘Single websites or portals which allow citizens and businesses to seamlessly interact with several government departments at one visit, have not yet emerged as the dominant model.’

‘Agency silos continue to dominate and, as a result, even the leading countries in the research are less than half way to reaching their full online service potential,’ it added.

The UK government has only recently begun to fulfil the criteria laid out in the report, which was researched in January. It opened the UK online portal in February and a website for secure transactions, the Government Gateway, is expected to go fully operational this month.

Prime minister Tony Blair last year pledged £1bn to put all government services online by 2005.

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