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OPINION - THE NEED TO FOCUS

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So the LGC e-government market report says only one in 10 councils are optimistic about achieving their e-governmen...
So the LGC e-government market report says only one in 10 councils are optimistic about achieving their e-government targets by 2005. Unsurprising, as we in Scotland are less than thrilled at the need to hit a target plucked from the ether.

While some councils have been helped by£25m of modernising government

funds, many others lack the funding and support needed to progress.

We are beginning to evaluate this progress with the Scottish Executive because everybody recognises we are embarking on a process of major change.

Re-designing council business around the needs of the citizen is challenging traditional methods of service delivery. The unwillingness of public sector partners to share data and pool resources, and the reluctance

of some managers to let go of redundant tasks, is proving to

be a major block to progress.

Our private sector partners have been surprised at the range and complexity of services provided by local government.

Estimates suggest there are up to 700 business processes taking place in Scottish councils. But many of these are there because of a distant directive or

a request for annual returns which bear little relation to citizens' needs. Other processes were established when CCT was introduced and have left a legacy of duplication between the client department and the DLO.

Government at national and local level has never been good at clearing away the debris of failed legislation. The elimination of these duplications and the jungle of paper-based bureaucracies will be the greatest benefit of e-governance.

The emerging dilemma is that private sector companies want

to win contracts across the whole of Scotland rather than just from individual councils - as they are less likely to be a cash cow.

Their preference is to focus on one service where it is easier to map and streamline processes. And while this approach is welcomed by some in the Scottish Executive and local government, the trick is to

bring all services to citizens together around a single citizen account.

This game has a long way to go, but fortunately the Scottish Executive understands that only by focusing on the citizen and data sharing will we make a reality of e-governance.

-- For a copy of the 'LGC E-government market report', contact Sarah Wightman on 020 7874 0347, or e-mail sarah.wightman@lgc.emap.com

www.lgcnet.com/psmi

Keith Yates

Chief executive, Stirling Council

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