Friday, April 04, 2003

Deadline doubters

Computing's Andy McCue sees doubts over whether the 100% online target is valid (and there's more on it here). If we were at 89% of transactions online now (right now!) and arguing about, say, whether to put "burial at sea" online, or "online exhumations" or something like that, I'd be right there. I'd be saying that we'd done enough. If I was looking at daily graphs that showed millions of transactions (out of the 5 billion annual transactions done with government) were happening, I'd be pretty clear that we'd done the right thing, it was working and I'd be arguing that we should shift attention to more fruitful activities. Re-engineering the backend of government systems, say, or rationalising departmental organisation structures. But we aren't, I haven't and so I'm not. Few transactions online, few being used and still we're arguing about the target. Get a life folks. Get to work on delivering the next few % so that people use them. If you get to 2005 and half your local population are paying their council tax online, checking the balance online, applying for their housing benefit online, paying their self assessment online and claiming child benefit online (along with the other 500-odd transactions), argue about the validity of the target. Until you can claim success (and there are one or two local authorities that can claim they are pretty much there), get on with the work. And, to the thinkers who are arguing about the target, how about you ponder why these services are not online now, why the ones that are going online aren't being used as much as they might be and what needs to be done about it. Like I said, broken things need to get fixed. Arguing about how broken it is doesn't get us anywhere.

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