The UK government needs to appoint an ?IT supremo? if it is to deliver on its plans to make all public services electronic, warned one of its leading IT suppliers this week.
This week Jack Cunningham, minister for the Cabinet Office, launched the white paper ?Modernising Government? which commits the government to delivering all services electronically by 2008. (see VNU Newswire 30 March)
Mike Stock, director of government and public services at Bull Information Systems, said the government would need to appoint somebody - preferably Cunningham himself - to take on overall responsibility for IT strategy for such a scheme to work.
?The pace of change in technology has very often overtaken government project in the past,? he warned. ?What is needed is an IT supremo.? If the government made such an appointment, then the 2008 deadline was possible, he believed, but warned it was not certain.
Stock said he was also concerned about the level of funding the government will allocate to the project.
?I was pleased to see some talk of funding in there, but I would question if there is enough,? he said.
The white paper said the government will invest #230 million in the next two to three years to help public bodies deliver services more efficiently.
Stock, who helped Bull put forward a critique to the government?s green paper on the issue, said IT could help the government modernise its services, but acknowledged there are crucial differences between the private and public sector, which the government needs to address and which could prevent it achieving the aim of 100 per cent electronic delivery.
?The government has to deal with everybody in society, even the have nots and some people won?t be able to take advantage of having services online,? he said.
As well as promising to provide all government services electronically by 2008, the white paper commits the government to providing access to services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with people being given access to an NHS healthcare service by the end of 2000.
The government will review all central and local government services and activities in the next five years to identify the best supplier in each case.
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