Head of the French National audit office, Bernard Candiard, is coming to Liverpool for talks on how the city council is using the latest technology to revolutionise customer services.
French prime minister, Jean Pierre Raffarin, has put Mr Candiard in charge of a one year mission to study the improvement of citizens' access to public services, and the French Embassy has requested the visit, to find out about the radical changes which are taking place in Liverpool.
The first stop for the delegates will be the council's call-centre Liverpool Direct. The call-centre is open 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week, and handles 36,000 calls every week. It is regarded by Whitehall as the future of local government.
The group will then be taken to the city centre One Stop Shop to meet staff and find out how they are using new technology to cut waiting times and improve customer service. They will discuss the city's network of One Stop Shops which are enabling people to get information and advice about all council services on their doorstep.
The fact-finding mission will end with a visit to the council's e-government showcase in the Municipal Buildings for presentations and discussions on projects which are improving access to council services for Liverpool residents.
On the agenda will be the plans to set up a network of on-street pavement pods, to put people more in touch with the council than ever before. The hi-tech kiosks will allow local people who don't have access to computers to contact the council, on-line, round-the-clock, and send e-mails or text messages, free of charge.
They will also discuss the council's award-winning CRM computer system, which is revolutionising customer services by enabling council staff to call up complete customer profiles from a single point, allowing them to provide a personalised, individual service for each customer.
Liverpool City Council has received more than 150 visits, from government officials, agencies and local authorities eager to find out about the city's e-government developments. Previous visitors include the permanent secretary to the cabinet, Richard Wilson and a succession of government ministers including Malcolm Wicks.
The city council's executive member for e-government, councillor Chris Newby, said: 'It's great news that Mr Candiard has chosen Liverpool for this fact-finding mission. Liverpool Direct, the One Stop Shops and our plans for on-street pavement pods are making council services more accessible than ever for customers.
'We have been visited by government officials, local authorities and organisations from all over the country. This top-level French visit gives us a great opportunity to spread the word about our seaport to e-port vision even further.'
Chief executive of the city council, David Henshaw, said: 'Being selected as a council the French government feel they can learn from is a symbol of the international recognition our e-government programme is receiving. I'm looking forward to sharing our experiences and future plans.'
The visit of the delegation, which includes Mr Candiard, his assistant and two members of the French Embassy, takes place on Monday 2 December 2002.