Headlines: April 23rd, 2003

The major threat to securing value for money from local government’s investment in technology is the limited capacity of officers and members of councils to manage the transformational change. A survey by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to find out how councils are responding to the challenges of e-government revealed a need to address people issues to overcome the failure of many councils to take a strategic approach to e-government.The survey showed that 72% of councils reported that both officers and members lacked adequate e-government skills. 69% of councils had identified specific skills gaps in officers and 51% in members. The skill gaps were not so much concerned with technology, but rather with strategic thinking and change management. 84% of councils reported that officers lacked process re-engineering and change management skills and 69% believed that members did not appreciate how e-government could contribute to the strategic objectives.

This picture of limited capacity is reflected in the inadequate implementation processes. Councils are better at managing individual projects than they are at the much more complex task of managing the overall programme. 80% of councils have not yet undertaken an overall assessment of the costs and benefits of the e-government services they have installed. The survey also exposed weaknesses in identifying and managing risks and monitoring outcomes.

The weaknesses in strategic thinking and change management follow through to the benefits derived from the substantial investments already made in e-government. 67% of councils reported that e-government had not resulted in a reduction of running costs. 35% believed that costs of providing information had risen and only 12% claimed a cost reduction. 39% of councils have no processes for monitoring changes in service quality.

Link: http://www.local.odpm.gov.uk/research/crosscut/rprtegov.pdf