Headlines: July 21st, 2005

Bracknell Forest Borough Council is taking over ownership of products developed by the National Smartcard Project. The announcement is in line with the Government’s aim to ensure the rollout of products from the National Projects as part of the strategy for local e-government. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced in February that ownership of projects was being offered to local authorities and this move is the first such transfer.Bracknell Forest has taken the lead for the Smartcard project since its launch in 2002. The council’s role has included developing advice, guidance and software that can be used by local authorities to implement smartcard schemes. The thinking is that Smartcards will improve the quality of life for local people by making services more accessible and ‘joined-up’ as well as more cost-effective. The Smartcard is one of 22 National Projects making up the building blocks and generic tools allowing local authorities to deliver e-government.

The project has received just over four million pounds of Government funding and will get a further 75,000 pounds to facilitate the transfer of ownership to Bracknell Forest. This money will meet the costs of establishing and running a user group for 12 months, as well as covering legal fees for establishing licences, website maintenance, personnel and marketing costs.

Councillor Paul Bettison, Leader of Bracknell Forest Council said the authority was delighted to be taking ownership of the software and other outputs from the National Smartcard Project and was looking forward to continuing to share expertise and experience with other local authorities that are looking to implement smartcard technology.

The Minister for Local e-government Jim Fitzpatrick said the National Projects had been instrumental in delivering improvements enabling local authorities to make further progress towards the December 2005 e-government target.

Other projects are looking at a range of e-government applications covering every area of councils’ work from local e-Democracy and e-Standards to e-pay and procurement.