Local government is looking to private technology, rather than central government or other councils, for technical guidance.
In its Technology Opportunities in the UK Public Sector report, analyst Datamonitor states that, with the government's 2005 target for all council services to be available online fast approaching, councils are increasingly turning to private suppliers for products, services and advice.
"Most councils do not expect to get this guidance from other councils or even the central government, but more from IT service providers, technology vendors and consultancies/integrators," said Kathleen Klasnic, lead analyst of Datamonitor's enterprise communications and public sector research.
This is due to the "relevant expertise on offer", she added.
Government programmes to guide local government e-development include Pathfinder, where successful developments are touted as models for other authorities; and National Projects, which offer central government support on particular technologies.
Roland Mezulis, chief e-government strategist at West Sussex County Council, said local government must get the right balance of guidance.
"E-government is a business transformation and the advice for this has to come from the central government," he said.
"We need to have some control of our own destiny which is set by policy from central government and enabled by local authorities. Suppliers and partners can offer good best practice models but central government is essential for guidance on priorities."
Jonathan Prew, strategic services director at Rotheram Borough Council, said that his recent signing of a 12-year strategic agreement with BT put him in the camp using guidance from private suppliers.
"But the public sector is getting its act together and there is much more shared working between authorities," he added.
Datamonitor's research also found that over a third of local councils believe they will fail to meet the government's 2005 target for electronic enablement of services.
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