Headlines: March 23rd, 2001

More than one hundred councils are to take part in 25 pathfinder projects – to develop better, more accessible local services by harnessing the benefits of new technology.The successful pathfinders will now agree with Government how they can best become centres of expertise from which all local government can learn, and the amount they will receive from the 25 million pound pot available 2001/02.

Each pathfinder is a partnership of councils, other public service agencies, local communities and the private sector.

Examples of the work that pathfinders will carry out include making services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week where there is demand, bill payment and leisure booking services, and smart cards used by local residents to claim public transport passes and pay for school meals.

Although there are 25 projects, taking into account partnership projects they involve 105 councils.

The 25 projects chosen were taken from an original pitch list 140. The criteria chosen to select the best involved – ability to demonstrate customer-focussed service design and delivery, clear commitment to work in partnership to join up service provision across all tiers of government and with other service delivery partners, ability to demonstrate a joined-up approach to service delivery involving both front and back office activities, and the ability for approaches adopted within the authority to be economically and practically replicated in other councils.

The pathfinders initiative was announced by the DETR last February. The initiative is part of the Government’s support to promote continuous improvement in local government services through electronic service delivery (ESD) to achieve the target of 100% ESD capability by 2005. A total of 350 million pounds has been identified in the Spending Review 2000 for this purpose including 25 million in 2001/02 for pathfinder