Headlines: December 14th, 2004

More than nine out of ten government services will be available electronically by the end of 2005 according to a report from the Cabinet Office, which also shows that three quarters of those services are already online. As a result there is to be a shift in the focus of the work of the e-Government Unit.The report says the outlook for use of the services is also positive with transaction levels rising compared to traditional delivery methods such as such as face-to-face meetings or telephone transactions.

The Autumn Performance Review highlights some service areas that are seeing high annual growth rates in electronic use. More than two thirds of business incorporations are now electronic, up 19 per cent from the previous year, more than 1.1 million Self Assessment tax returns for 2002-03 were submitted electronically and over 65 per cent of university applicants used electronic application services for 2004 entry.There is also evidence that ‘Directgov’, the Government’s flagship digital service launched earlier this year, is being well received. Eight out of ten users said it gave convenient access to public services and information. The service is being accessed by 150,000 unique users each week.

Ian Watmore, who heads the e-Government Unit, said the figures showed departments had responded well to the online delivery challenge set in 2000, now the emphasis would be on improving take-up of services, so while the Unit will continue to measure performance against the 2005 target, its focus will shift from enforcing service roll-out, to new priorities of supporting departments. These will aim to achieve more ‘customer-centric’ delivery, helping departments implement the efficiency recommendations from the Gershon Review and to achieve their own objectives and targets of cost reductions through increased take-up of electronic services. Of the 657 services identified as being suitable to be e-enabled, it is expected that 26 will not be fully online by the end of next year.