The National Audit Office wants public services to move on to the second generation of e-Government. In its latest report ‘Government on the Web ll’ it criticizes the Office of the e-Envoy for its continuing focus on the target to get all services on line by 2005. It makes it clear that the 244 staff in the Office, costing 52 million pounds per year, should now moving to a service delivery style with emphasis on implementation. This would then carry through to services at the sharp end of government and encourage second generation e-Government thinking.The report urges thinking to move beyond the 2005 target and to focus on the customer and particularly customer satisfaction and take up of online services. It highlights the lack of customer focus typified by a failure to tailor information to the user need coupled with the low usefulness of search engines. Three out of four sites do not allow users to fill-in and submit forms on line. Although take up of on line services is a crucial factor in determining cost effectiveness, insufficient effort is being put into promoting sites.
There is also a call for more to be done to assess the cost benefits of on-line services. The report notes that there is no methodology for doing this. Neither is there any central collection of data on web site usage, so it is not possible to make comparisons and find out what works – and what doesn’t work.
The report was prepared for the NAO by a team from the London School of Economics and Political Science and University College London.