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TRANSFORMING PUBLIC SERVICES - THE WAY FORWARD: DRAFT NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR LOCAL E-GOVT UNVEILED

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The government has today published its plan setting out how it will ...
The government has today published its plan setting out how it will

work with local government to help them deliver all their public

services online by 2005.

E-gov@local: Towards a national strategy for local e-government -

which now goes out for consultation - sets out the way forward,

proposes the building blocks for e- government and outlines action at

national, regional and local levels.

Launching the document on a visit to Newham LBC,

local government minister Nick Raynsford said:

'The government is committed to improve public services and is

working with councils to deliver the high quality public services

that local people have the right to expect.

'E-government is all

central to this. It provides both the opportunity and the means to

put citizens and customers at the heart of everything councils do.

New technology offers councils huge opportunities - to transform the

way services are delivered and to re-engage their communities.

'Councils such as Newham recognise this. They are responding in very

practical ways and in doing so are helping develop our shared vision

for the implementation of e-government throughout the country. Our

target is that by 2005 all local services will be joined up in ways

that make sense to the customer; are accessible at times and places

most convenient to the customer and are delivered seamlessly; so that

customers can have their requests dealt with in one go.

'I am pleased by the evidence that local government is rising to the

challenge and that e-government is helping to change the face of

local government. Today's draft strategy takes the e-agenda another

step forward. It provides a shared central-local vision of local

e-government and a clear route map of what needs to be done

nationally, regionally and locally.

'The strategy is not just for local government. Effective local

service delivery can only be achieved in partnership with the NHS,

the police and local community and voluntary organisations. It will

also need the active support of private sector partners to develop

new products and new ways of working so that all councils can benefit

from leading edge technology.'

The joint strategy - between the government and the LGA - focuses upon three areas:

- A model of the building blocks of local e-government on which

local authorities and other public services can build and implement

their own strategies

- A national framework of standards, infrastructure, partnerships

and support structures

- A vision of local e-government which puts customers at the

heart of the design and delivery of local services

Jeremy Beecham, chair of the LGA, said:

'A willingness to exploit the potential of new technologies will be

vital for councils in meeting public expectations of high quality

public services and responding to the needs of local communities.

This consultation paper seeks the widest possible debate with all

those who manage and deliver public services on proposals for a

framework for local e-government, within which local innovation and

delivery can flourish.'

The strategy also sets out how the government proposes to target

additional resources of£165m - from the£350m earmarked to support

the 2005 target:

- Up to£80m over two years on additional national projects. They

include projects to develop the use of smart cards and integrated

back-office systems such as customer relations management (CRM),

e-procurement and projects to put priority services online

including planning applications, school applications, and council

tax and business rate valuations.

- Up to£75m over two years supporting the development of local

and regional partnerships between councils and other local service

providers such as the police and the health service;

- Up to£6m over two years on disseminating local pathfinder

solutions, and building capacity and support.

By 2005 the strategy envisages that all local services will be:

- Joined up in ways that make sense to the customer;

- Accessible at times and places most convenient to the customer.

Customers will have more choice over the way in which they contact

and receive public services: through interactive digital TV,

through personalised websites, using smartcards, through mobile

technology, over the telephone, or over the counter;

- Delivered or supported electronically, facilitating faster,

more reliable and better value services;

- Delivered jointly, where appropriate, through single outlets

whether they are hosted by local authorities, government

departments or agencies, voluntary or community organisations or

local facilities like shops or post offices

- Delivered seamlessly, so that customers only provide the

information once;

- Open and accountable so that information about the objectives,

standards and performance of local service providers will be freely

and easily available. This will mean that complaints can be dealt

with quickly and effectively. Also citizens will be able to

participate in local decision making in many ways, including online

discussion, live polls, webcasts, referenda and consultations.

Councils are already transforming services to:

- Make services more convenient - Manchester City Council tenants

can order repairs online at any time of day or night. Also over

400 people in Newham are able to access a range of local and

national services through their television set. The aim is to

increase this to 11,000 homes by 2003.

- Make services faster - Bradford's Homehunter service is a

choice based letting system provided over the internet that allows

residents to search for locally available social rented properties.

- Make services more cost-effective - Middlesbrough's partnership

with Hyder Business Services will deliver joined up electronic

services, whilst saving the council£2m per year. Liverpool's joint

venture with BT will invest£60m using new technology and working

practices to re-engineer the council's services around the needs of

the city's citizens.

- Improve customer satisfaction - Epsom & Ewell's call centre

enables 80% of calls to be dealt with immediately by the call

centre agent. Lost calls (where callers hang up without a

response) have been reduced to less than 5%.

- Promote economic regeneration - Cambridgeshire's contact centre

is being located in the north west of the county, to promote job

opportunities in an area that has suffered from agricultural

decline.

Notes

1. The government has set all public services, including local

government, the target of achieving 100% electronic service delivery

capability by 2005 and made available in the Spending Review 2000

£1bn across government over three years from 2000/01.

2. £350m was earmarked for the Local Government Online programme.

- £25m has been invested in a programme of 25 pathfinder projects

to develop a set of working e-government solutions and promote a

culture of shared learning which has involved over 100 councils.

Details of the pathfinder programme can be found here.

- Last December the government announced

that£160m will be provided to all local authorities in England

over the next two years to pump prime their implementing

e-government plans. This equates to£200,000 per authority in

2002/03, and a similar sum in 2003/04 subject to demonstration of

satisfactory progress against IEG plans.

- The draft strategy proposes that the remaining£165m will be

spent on a mix of support for national projects, local partnerships

delivering shared services and building capacity at a national and

regional level to help councils implement e.government. Partnership

funding will be announced in May, and specific support for other

projects as business plans are finalised and once the result of the

consultation exercise have been considered.

3. Copies of the consultation paper (and the accompanying summary)

are available here, or alternatively from

0870 1226 236. The consultation period ends on 28th June. The final

strategy document will be published later in the year.

A letterto local authority chief executives from the DTLR is available.

4. Beckton Globe was Newham's first local service centre - or one

stop shop, opened in June 1998. There are now nine local service

centres in the borough. The total number of visitors to those centres

from April 01 to March 02 was 602,668.

Welcoming the publication of the strategy, Newham LBC's chief executive Dave Burbage said:

'We are proud that this national strategy is being launched here.

Newham LBC is at the forefront of e-government work, where we

have a variety of electronic initiatives in place to provide a better

service to the community.'

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