Headlines: November 7th, 2001

The e-Government target to put all services on line by 2005 may not be the best way to raise standards and give the taxpayer a better deal. With Internet access growth at a standstill and the e-Envoy warning that it would be a waste of public money putting online services that would not be used, the wisdom of focusing on government to citizen services is being challenged.One challenger is Ian Busby, CEO of E-Government Solutions (eGS), who believes that the focus should be broadened with new targets for joining up services to support those most in need. Using e-technology to bridge between agencies in local and central government would provide better and
more responsive services. For example, an online system giving social services, hospitals and GPs help in providing a seamless service to the elderly would deliver huge benefits.

The latest Oftel Survey shows that the Internet market as a whole remains broadly unchanged this quarter, with 39% of UK homes currently claiming to be connected. It is too early to tell from a single quarter’s results whether this represents a change in the long-term trend, but any longer term slowdown in Internet access growth would be harmful to efforts to narrowing the digital divide.