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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK
E-government to cost jobs
Pen and paper
E-services may remove the need for pen and paper
test hello test
Jane Wakefield
By Jane Wakefield
BBC News Online technology staff
line
Putting government services online could cost up to 20% of civil servant jobs over the next 10 years, according to the UK e-envoy Andrew Pinder.

The comments about the jobs cuts, made at a Government Leaders' Conference in Seattle, have left other e-government experts baffled.

Mr Pinder said re-organising the way the public sector worked could be used to increase staff numbers in the health and education sectors.

The e-envoy is charged with the job of getting all government services online by 2005.

More not less

A spokesperson for the e-envoy confirmed that the savings would result from the reorganisation of public services over the next decade.

According to Mr Pinder, the savings are based on those already made by the private sector.


My understanding is that there is no definitive answer on how e-government will affect civil service jobs

PCS spokesman
But Peter Friedman, editor of SupportInsight, a website for the support and training industry, is not convinced he has got his sums right.

"I would be very interested to know where Mr Pinder gets that 20% saved by the private sector from," he said.

The need for online support has in fact increased job opportunities, he said.

"In the private sector we are seeing the quality of service issue potentially increasing the resources devoted to customer relationship management."

His comments were echoed by civil service unions.

"My understanding is that there is no definitive answer on how e-government will affect civil service jobs," said a spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union.

"It will certainly change work in the civil and public sector and will have an impact on the number of staff but it is too early to say how many."

Redundancies?

According to the union, there is likely to be immense political pressure on the government not to close down local benefit and tax offices.

"A significant proportion of the public will still want face-to-face contacts," said the union spokesman.

He said the union would work closely with the government to ensure civil servants replaced by electronic services were redeployed elsewhere in the public sector.

Ex-civil servant Ken D'Rosario, who now works with NextiraOne on public service projects, said it was far too early to talk about redundancies.

"E-government is nowhere near where it should be so anyone making judgements on staffing levels is being a bit premature," he said.

Mr Pinder declined an interview with BBC News Online about his comments.

See also:

21 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
Britons 'do not want e-government'
08 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
E-voting put to the test
04 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Ministers urged to be more web-wise
20 Feb 02 | Sci/Tech
Challenges ahead for e-government
02 Feb 01 | Sci/Tech
E-government starts with a D
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