Headlines: March 4th, 2002

A new report documents the progress of local government in hitting the deadline of 2005 for being able to deliver public services electronically.The Audit Commission report says that although councils are confident their services can be delivered electronically within the next three years – there’s a lot still to do.

‘Councils and E-government: Research so far’ drew information from a survey of council officers and found 78 per cent confident of meeting the government’s 2005 target with many planning for earlier implementation and making headway in engaging local people.

However, against this backdrop of optimism, evidence suggests that most projects have only recently begun and benefits realised to date are few. The survey found that over 50 per cent of work to deliver e-strategies only started in the last 12 months, and when asked to reflect upon their most successful project to date, as many as 18 per cent of responses said there had been none.

The two most commonly cited barriers in the survey are capacity to manage the change process and lack of ICT skills and the understanding of staff.

The Audit Commission is to conduct further research into how local councils are juggling the e-government drive with other priorities.

Another report will be published in July this year. The findings so far are found at www.audit-commission.gov.uk/publications/egovernment.shtml