Headlines: October 15th, 2001

In August 2000 Publicnet announced the dawn of a new era for the delivery of government services on line with launch of a service for buying fishing licences from the Environment Agency. Those willing to pay an additional one pound fifty pence were able to place an order and pay on line for a licence delivered to them by post. The service had a second revenue stream as purchasers were asked if they would like to receive fishing publications. Impower, a dotcom start up company who provided the service has now announced that it has been withdrawn.When a competitor came on the scene earlier in the year charging only 25 pence for the licence, Impower’s service began to look unsustainable. The irony in the situation is that while the government is encouraging the private sector to share in developing online delivery of services the competitor who forced Impower to withdraw is the Environment Agency. The Cabinet Office report ‘E.gov: electronic government services for the 21st century’, published in September 2000 said that the state should let dotcom government bloom. It urged that the E-envoy should promote a level playing field between public, private and voluntary providers. It also said that public sector providers should assess the rationale for public provision.

Impower contines to provide other online services which include adult education, student loan applications, a recruitments service for local authorities and online payments for parking offences and other payments.