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E-GOVERNMENT SUPPLEMENT - COMMENT

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E-government targets moving further away ...
E-government targets moving further away

The progress of e-government appears to have hit a slump.

A draft national strategy for local e-government has finally been published. It has been dismissed by critics as unreadable and several years too late to help councils hit the 2005 target.

Similarly, the electoral pilots for the last local elections show that while postal voting had an extraordinary effect on turnout, e-voting did not.

The wider picture is not good either. Central government has been embarrassed by a National Account Office report saying civil servants have no idea how to make good use of IT. The collapse of ITVDigital has seriously set back the goal of moving from analogue to digital TV by 2010, which is a reminder, if anyone had forgotten, that IT is no panacea. And applying technology to government is not as easy as applying it to business. The more ambitious e-government gets, the more dramatic the failures and shortcomings are likely to be.

If one takes this into account, it is hardly surprising that the draft strategy is complicated. It is not going to wave a magic wand over the troubled progress of IT, but it is a starting point.

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