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Last Updated: Monday, 15 December, 2003, 14:11 GMT
New chief for online government
Computer user
The aim is to get people and services online by 2005
The UK is to create a new head of e-government to take over the current e-envoy's duties in April 2004.

Andrew Pinder, whose role has been to get people and services online by 2005, steps down after four years.

The Cabinet Office's Douglas Alexander said the head "will play a pivotal role in supporting the prime minister's vision for public service reform".

The announcement came as Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt published an annual report on progress so far.

'Resounding success'

Since the office of the e-envoy was created to lead the way in giving net access to everyone who wanted it, there has been "very significant progress", Ms Hewitt told journalists at a press conference.

"The prime minister's decision to appoint an e-envoy has been a resounding success," she said.

The annual report found that 96% of the country knew where they could go online if they wanted to, whether at home, work or at a public access point.

The Digital Inclusion Panel will play a key role in helping us ensure that every home in the UK should have a connection to online services through a digital network by 2008 - whether through a personal computer, digital television, mobile phone or other device
Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt

Over two-thirds of government services were online and more than half of UK's net users had accessed these services at one time, said the report.

"We have embedded the net in every part of government and we are now looking forward to the next four years," Ms Hewitt added.

"We want to now build on the momentum to ensure that everyone has access to a digital network by 2008 in their own home," she said, whether that be through the net or digital television.

She paid tribute to the work Mr Pinder had done in his four-year capacity as e-envoy, and said it was a tribute to his efforts that the government had decided a dedicated person to take on the "e-agenda" was required.

Including all

Ms Hewitt said an important part of the e-agenda's next stage was to create a private sector-led Digital Inclusion Panel.

The panel, led by a "high-profile chair", will advise the government on how to reach those still missing out on net access, as well as digital TV services.

Five times as many people have home net access than four years ago, and digital TV (DTV) has seen a four-fold increase in that time.

"The Digital Inclusion Panel will play a key role in helping us ensure that every home in the UK should have a connection to online services through a digital network by 2008 - whether through a personal computer, DTV, mobile phone or other device," she said.

The report also pointed to the success of e-commerce, which accounted for more than 23bn of transactions in 2002.

It said the UK had one of the best environments for e-commerce in the world.

Last week, telecoms watchdog Oftel announced three million homes and businesses have broadband connections, which are said to have contributed significantly to e-commerce.




SEE ALSO:
UK hits 3 million broadband mark
11 Dec 03  |  Technology
Uncertain future for e-Envoy role
10 Sep 03  |  Technology
E-government 'needs rebooting'
17 Jul 03  |  Politics
E-government begins with you
11 Apr 03  |  Technology
Cost of government websites revealed
03 Apr 03  |  Technology
UK 'lags in e-government'
25 Feb 03  |  Technology
Public 'turned off by e-government'
13 Dec 02  |  Politics


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