Headlines: February 22nd, 2005

Councils are to be offered ownership of products developed by the Local e-Government National Projects. This will be done as part of the long-term strategy for local e-government and will enable all local authorities to continue to reap benefits from the products.The announcement is seen as being consistent with the lead taken by local authorities in developing the National Projects. The National Projects are the building blocks that help local authorities in England to deliver local e-government. They have been developed on the ‘build once, use often’ principle, enabling any local authority interested in achieving service improvements and making efficiency savings to take them up. Development of the majority of the Projects will be complete by the end of next month.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said that in the first instance, ownership of each National Project will be offered to the lead authority, which can then decide if it wishes to share the opportunity with any other members of the Project board or with either new or existing commercial partners.

Where the lead authority in a Project decided not to continue its responsibility for the ownership of products they will be offered to other councils and suitable bodies including the Improvement and Development Agency, lead authorities of the Regional Centres of Excellence, Government Departments where appropriate and the private sector. National Project products that are not taken up after this process will be discontinued.

Transfer of ownership will be completed by December this year. Until then the rollout and marketing of the National Projects will remain with the ROADS programme, which is to get a further 3.5 million pounds to support its work.

Phil Hope, Minister for Local e-government said the National Projects had been successful collaborations between councils, resulting in networking and shared learning on an unprecedented scale. They had been a real catalyst for improvement and had the potential to play a big part in delivering efficiency gains beyond 2005. The arrangement for transfer of ownership should secure rollout of the products over the long term.