Headlines: March 22nd, 2005

A new system has been launched to tighten security for on-line transactions between public bodies, such as local authorities. ‘Government Connect’ will bring together technical solutions and practical advice with the aim of improving electronic service delivery by central and local government. It will mean that for the first time people will be able to complete transactions online without having to send documents by post, or turn up in person with their passport, driving licence, bills or other proofs of identity.Councils across the country are being invited to become members of ‘Government Connect’ and to implement the system in a phased roll-out. The objective is to have all local authorities using the system by the end of 2007 when it is expected to bring efficiencies in service delivery and costs.

The national project is being led by Bolton Council, which is heading a group of 12 organisations including other local authorities, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the e-Government Unit. Bolton’s Executive Member for e-Government, Martyn Cox said the authority had built a reputation for being at the forefront of developing and implementing e-Government for the benefit of local people and this was just the latest in a number of projects it had been involved in.

Minister for Local e-government, Phil Hope, believes the project is the product of fruitful co-operation between local and central government. Implementing Government Connect, he said, would deliver greater trust and security between councils, government agencies and intermediaries, enabling better, more joined up services. He encouraged councils to become involved as this was an essential part of the Government’s programme, not only for e-government, but the whole drive to modernise public services.

The head of the e-Government Unit, Ian Watmore said the focus over the next few years would be on the take-up and quality of services, particularly those that really touched customers’ lives. “Government Connect will allow customers to complete sensitive transactions on-line using just one sign-on and will also enable the secure transfer of data between councils and Government departments. All of this will improve the efficiency of public organisations and bring real cost benefits,” he said.