Thursday, August 21, 2003

A new spin on e-government

John Naughton, he of the Observer and he who is definitely not usually a fan of all things e-government, reported on the iSociety report a month ago. Some nearly pleasing quotes from his piece. "The Inland Revenue has built a magnificent system for online filing of tax returns, but only 70,000 people (out of a possible 8 million) use it" Delighted he thinks it's magnificent, although his usage figure is wrong by a factor of 5 (he is too low, of course). But, better ... Critical media coverage of failures of government IT projects (think DSS, passport office) reinforces public scepticism about eGovernment. And the problem is exacerbated by the fact that those people who have most need to interact with the state (because of being poor, elderly or ill) are precisely the groups who feel most uneasy about using unfamiliar, online, channels. The battle to put government online has been won. But the battle to put citizens online has only just begun. I'm not sure that the former battle has been won, although I'd just be arguing over words. It's the battle to put government online the right way that hasn't been won, which in turn leads to citizens wanting to use the services.

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