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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
E-government services 'on track'
Internet user
Online public services need to be people centric
Most public services will be online by the deadline of 2005, officials have insisted.

E-Envoy Andrew Pinder, who is responsible for ensuring the deadline is met, said he was confident 90% of services will be online by 2005.

But the issue now was to come up with services that people wanted and are willing to use, he said.

He said UK's goal to be one of the leading e-commerce nations in the G7 was on course too, with most UK businesses having web presence.

For the people?

Mr Pinder told a meeting of local government bosses that good work had been done to provide net access to everyone in the UK through libraries and internet centres.

While there are some hardcore problems around, internet access is broadly available and widely used
Andrew Pinder, e-Envoy
But he said the key issue now was encouraging people to use public services online.

Services need to be easy and quick to use and local authorities should not be trying to compete with each other in trying to find bigger and better technical systems to achieve that, he warned.

Instead, the public sector needs to borrow techniques from successful businesses like Amazon, which builds services around the customer.

There has been some criticism of the UK's rush towards the 2005 target, suggesting there has been a slow and patchy push of online strategies at a local government level.

But Mr Pinder highlighted what he thought were examples of online services which had proved very valuable to people, like the NHS Direct website.

Broader challenges

Computer cables
Getting UK wired up to broadband is still a challenge
When the e-government targets were identified three years ago, one of the big issues was the availability of cheap dial-up internet access.

The challenge has now shifted to making high-speed broadband net accessible to all.

"But even broadband is no longer a big an issue as it was two-and-a-half years ago," he said.

Although every public library in the UK has net access, Mr Pinder admitted there were still sections of society not using the technology, such as older people.

"While there are some hardcore problems around, internet access is broadly available and widely used."

The government's online strategy is part of the European Union's deadlines for member states to have half of government transactions online by 2005.

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17 Jul 03  |  Politics
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13 Dec 02  |  Politics

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