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PROJECT TO GENERATE A 'MANIFESTO FOR A DIGITAL BRITAIN'

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With the government heavily reliant on new technology to deliver its reform agenda, but with 73% of people saying t...
With the government heavily reliant on new technology to deliver its reform agenda, but with 73% of people saying they are oblivious to any improvement as a result of e-government, the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) today launched its project to generate a Manifesto for a Digital Britain.

In the last few weeks the government's public service reform announcements have all involved significant investment in Information Communication Technology (ICT) in order to deliver. ippr believes politicians and policy-makers can no longer ignore the implications for wider public policy. The Manifesto for a Digital Britain aims to bring ICT to the centre of political debate.

Key areas for ICT in government:

- Whitehall efficiency: ICT is critical to achieving the 2.5% efficiency savings, targeted by the chancellor in the recent spending review.

- Health: electronic patient records and online appointment booking systems play a central role in future health strategy.

- Security: digital technologies are at the centre of anti-terrorism, immigration and crime policies. Persistent offenders will be tagged by satellite for the first time; ID cards play a key role in future security and migration strategies.

- Transport: a national congestion charging schemes is entirely dependent on new technology, such as Global Positioning Satellite.

- Content: downloading music from the internet is now a mainstream activity, with over half a million legal downloads made in the UK during the first half of 2004. The debate over intellectual property rights and the internet is now a mainstream consumer issue.

ippr senior research fellow William Davies said:

'No area of policy making can afford to ignore the implications of the changes new technology will bring. The purpose of the Manifesto is to tackle the perception that ICT is a specialist interest, so that policy-makers can no longer dismiss technological issues as 'geeky', and ICT itself is no longer seen as something outside of our control.'

A Manifesto for a Digital Britain will focus on the following themes:

- The knowledge economy

- News, information and digital media

- Communities and participation

- Security and privacy

- Ownership and intellectual property

- E-government - renewing the inputs

- E-government - evaluating the outputs

- Future forms of e-government

The Manifesto for a Digital Britain will produce regular web reports and a final publication in March 2005.

Communications minister Stephen Timms said:

'ICT is at the heart of government strategy and harnessing the potential of new and developing technologies remains a key challenge for us all.

'Government is investing in science and innovation and R&D to help generate a successful and vibrant economy that will exploit the opportunities that ICTs offer.

'And to meet the new demands of these technologies, it is the government's aim to make the UK a world leader for supplying ICT skills and also to deliver higher standards of education through ICTs.

'Government has a key role in advancing the development and use of ICT through creating e-government. With nearly three quarters of government services online already, this will help deliver efficiency savings as well as better public services.'

A full outline of the Manifesto for a Digital Britain work programme is available here.

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