An information and communications technology and e-government strategy for the authority was approved by councillors at a meeting of the council executive on 20 November.
The plan sets out how ICT facilities - such as the internet, e-mail and video conferencing - will support the delivery of services and help the council achieve its e-government targets.(1)
The main aim is to make services more efficient and accessible to residents and customers.
The strategy explores how customer relationship management software will enable officers to provide 'seamless' and more effective responses to customer enquiries, whether by face-to-face or telephone interaction or via the authority's website.
The software will be used to find the information required to respond to enquiries, which will be logged so that the customer's details can be retrieved speedily should they contact the council again at a later date.
Other considerations include the development of e-forms, which will enable residents to fill out a range of forms on-line using the council's website. The data from these forms will be sent directly to the relevant department for processing.
And the potential for allowing employees in certain service areas to work from home, by giving them direct access to the council's IT network, has also been identified. The move is seen as having a number of possible benefits such as freeing-up office space and reducing the number of employees who use transport to travel to work, which would reduce the impact on the environment.
Margaret Orchard, lead member for corporate services at the council, said: 'A citizen focus is at the heart of this strateg y, as it aims to serve residents better through understanding their needs and providing enhanced access to services.
'Our e-government activities in particular will not just have benefits for internet users, they will also improve the services we provide to anyone who makes an enquiry by telephone or visits the council's offices in person.
'We are keen to develop 'one-stop shop' facilities where customers can get all the information they need from one member of staff at the first point of contact, and this strategy is a major stepping stone to achieving this aspiration.'
From a partnership perspective, the strategy looks at providing services and information through a centralised Derbyshire website, which will include e-forms from participating local authorities as well as an A-Z of services contact list covering the county.
1. In March 2000 the prime minister made it a statutory requirement for local authorities to ensure that by 2005 all services capable of being delivered electronically are provided by those means.
2. Councils were invited to submit IEG statements to the government, setting out their plan for achieving its e-government targets and explaining their progress to date. The council has been awarded £400,000 from the first two rounds of IEG funding. The authority has written its third IEG statement for funding.