A British MP has invited government and industry representatives to the UK next year to share their experiences of putting public services online.
Derek Wyatt, a Labour backbencher who launched the World Internet Forum today, said he hoped the scheme would save governments millions of pounds by stopping them "reinventing the wheel" and encouraging them to learn from each others' mistakes.
The first Forum, chaired by Lord Puttnam, will be held at Oxford University from 3-7 September, 2000. The annual event will then move around the world, with future conferences planned in the US, Beijing, China, and Melbourne, Australia.
Wyatt, who has a background in Internet technology, said his decision to launch the Forum was spurred by frustration at the increasing number of government IT project failures and the lack of cooperation between different governments.
"Governments around the world don't get it, they don't get past base one. In Britain, these projects have all gone over budget or failed. If it isn't working in Britain, it certainly isn't working anywhere else," he said.
"We want to bring best practice to the forefront of the world and stop governments wasting lots of time and millions of dollars," he added.
Delegates at the Forum will share their experiences of putting services online in four key areas: social services, health, education and culture. The information will be collected and made available to governments worldwide via the Forum's Web site.
Internet technology vendors will also be invited to the event. Wyatt said he would like to see the successes of Yahoo and Ebay repeated in governments' online efforts. "They've got the software that could easily provide a national grid for learning," he explained.
But despite British enthusiasm for the launch, the UK government has failed to pledge any funding for the conference. "At the moment, there isn't any. We're in discussions, but are not expecting any," Wyatt said.
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