Councils are set to play a major role in delivering e-government services for central departments. The e-Envoy wants to create a mixed economy in delivering the services of departments and he issued a consultation paper asking for views on a framework for involving private sector companies and voluntary organizations. The surprise result from the consultation was that councils are well placed to compete in this mixed economy.The consultation paper set out a vision of intermediaries from the public, private and voluntary sectors making a significant contribution to delivering services electronically to improve their availability and usability. For example, a voluntary organization could bring expertise to the delivery of a particular service of the Department of Work and Pensions. Similarly an accountancy firm could add value to a service of the Inland Revenue. All departments were told prior to the consultation that they should involve private and voluntary sector intermediaries for e-Government services as part of their overall e-Government strategy. They have now been told to involve councils as well.
The mixed economy vision presented by the e-Envoy in the consultation paper excluded councils, but from responses it emerged that they are natural intermediaries and can act as facilitators, brokers, and champions of e-government services. Further exploration of the potential of councils to give access to a wider range of government services has been promised.
The e-Envoy will publish Guidelines on developing a mixed economy by the end of 2003. They will help departments and intermediaries through the process, from intermediary application to guiding principles on the ongoing relationship. Councils will then be able to see the opportunities for competing in the mixed economy and earning revenue to reduce council tax bills.