The take-up of government online services is stalling because consumers don't see any real benefit in using them, according to a new report from the Government's spending watchdog.
The investigation by the Committee of Public Accounts (CPA) into improving public services through e-government is sceptical of what the £10bn-worth of projects will achieve unless changes are made.
Government departments currently have 100 major IT projects underway worth a total of £10bn.
But although IT offers the potential to improve government services, to date few benefits have been realised.
Speaking at the publication of the CPA's 54th report, its chairman, Edward Leigh MP, warned that government departments needed to do more to encourage the use of online services by citizens and increase the range of transactions available to the public.
"Most government services currently available online just provide basic information and advice," he said.
"More rapid progress now needs to be made to enable people to carry out transactions with government, such as applying for a driving licence or claiming benefits.
"But there is also a need for better marketing strategies to encourage people to actually use what is available online."
The report stated: "Very few of the services which most citizens routinely use can be fully accessed online. Departments need to concentrate their efforts on identifying and making fully available online those services which citizens are most likely to find useful.
"The public is unlikely to want to use the services which departments provide electronically unless they see real benefit from doing so."
The Lord Chancellor's Department is piloting a programme to allow solicitors to issue and serve petitions for less serious cases via email. Initial results have suggested that the average time taken to provide judgement on a civil case can be reduced from 21 to five days.
But proven benefits of that nature have so far been few and far between. The report said that to achieve improvements government departments needed to look beyond e-enabling existing ways of delivering services, and instead consider how IT could be used to enhance and improve services.
The CPA has also warned that, although departments often justify their significant investment in IT projects by the potential to improve their operational efficiency and free up resources, departments need to establish baselines against which they can determine whether their investments in new technology have paid off.
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