Sheffield City Council has received European Commission recognition for its provision of electronic government, but experts are warning that focusing on electronic delivery will not lead to better services.
The award recognises Sheffield's efforts in providing internet access to people without home computers. A network of internet kiosks provide services including change of address notification, job vacancies, and access to the Passport Agencies website.
But while the European Commission has been keen to reward excellence in e-government, others remain sceptical of its value. Analyst firm Gartner Group warned that focusing on electronic government may not deliver better services.
"Initiatives must be based on quantifying value and cost for constituents, and address service delivery targets," said Andrea Di Maio, research director at Gartner.
A survey conducted by Gartner found that British citizens still prefer face-to-face or telephone dealings with their local councils.
"Most [European] governments have assumed that citizens want to have web interaction, but very little has been done to understand their needs and define where delivering a service online will add real value," said Di Maio.
The kiosks in Sheffield are run, maintained and staffed jointly by the council and outsourcing firm CSL. They provide 100,000 page impressions per month.
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