TechnologyHeadstart: E-business – The online voice of authority.

Headstart: E-business - The online voice of authority.

With the government aiming to have all its services online by 2005, Philip Smith checks out public portals

Someone, somewhere must be making a lot of money out of e-government.

With our leaders’ expressed desire to have all government services online by 2005, website designers have never had it so good.

It is only when you look at www.ukonline.gov.uk that you realise just how many departments, local authorities, agencies and quangoes there are out there, all of which need at least one website – if not more.

So while the bottom may have fallen out of the dotcom recruitment market, there has been a stampede towards the public sector.

With such a vast amount of government-backed information services on the web, and a clear promise of more to come – local government in particular seems set to rapidly expand its coverage on the web – where should you start?

The government’s official portal is www.ukonline.gov.uk, which sits over its previous incarnation, www.open.gov.uk. Here you can search for just about anything related to public services, but the portal goes much further than that.

The site includes news services, discussion groups and guides to modern living (catchily titled ‘Life Episodes’). The site is very easy to navigate, and it has a clear and user-friendly layout.

More than a portal, the site aims to let web users feel they can be, in some small way, involved with government.

For local government, check out www.info4local.gov.uk. This is aimed specifically at local government employees wanting to get hold of central government information directly relating to them.

It’s a simple site, but has an extensive array of links and subject matter. If you’re looking for the latest news on Best Value, regional or environmental issues, this is a great place to get started.

It’s not a complicated site, which has to be a benefit as it is there to act as a straightforward link to central information. It has also won awards for its design.

The info4local project was a winner in the first awards to be made by the Invest to Save Budget, a joint venture by the Treasury and Cabinet Office to encourage public bodies to work together on innovative projects.

Another site worth bookmarking is www.lgolpathfinder.gov.uk.

This is the site for the government’s local authority online initiative, which has the strap line ‘access for all’. It gives details of the 25 ‘pathfinder’ projects that are being piloted to demonstrate best practice in online delivery.

It’s dull but very worthy, and certainly important for all those involved in this area.

As is www.govtalk.gov.uk.

Here you can participate in the e-government debate. The purpose of this site is to enable the public sector, industry and other interested participants to work together to develop and agree policies and standards for e-government.

So if you want to have your say, sign up and log on to the discussion groups.

Our pick of government websites: feel part of the future

www.ukonline.gov.uk

The starting point for any search for government-related material, the site is a vast improvement on its predecessor, open.gov.uk.

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www.info4local.gov.uk

Award-winning site for local government information produces by central government. Uncomplicated but extensive ‘joined-up’ site.

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www.lgolpathfinder.gov.uk

Find out how the 25 ‘pathfinder’ local government online projects are faring. Dull, but certainly worth looking at for ‘best practice’ examples.

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www.govtalk.gov.uk

Get involved in the online government debate. Feel a part of the future through this site by helping to develop policies for e-government.

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