The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has called on the government to justify its e-government strategy and the "heavy spending commitments" for it.
The independent, left-of-centre think-tank said the government should scrap its 2005 deadline for placing all services online and instead adopt a case-by-case approach for online services if it is to retain support for its e-government initiative.
Ian Kearns, head of the Digital Society Programme at IPPR, said the 2005 target should be replaced with a new framework based on value to the citizen.
"The 2005 targets are useless because even if all services are available online it does not mean they are improved," he said. "Failure to add value through e-services could undermine public and political support."
The think-tank has launched its Public Value and Electronic Service delivery project to provide criteria for whether online services deliver value.
It includes four components: citizen satisfaction, impact on internal efficiency, impact on desired policy outcome and rebuilding trust between citizen and government.
The IPPR claimed that the 2005 deadline overshadowed efforts to improve services.
Local government IT bosses agree. Roland Mezulis, chief e-government strategist at West Sussex County Council, said the IPPR proposals would benefit local councils by enabling them to focus on improving their delivery of service rather than stretching to meet a target.
He said councils should be able to judge on a case-by-case basis whether to put a service online.
"We want to improve services and use technology where there is an opportunity to make the service better," he added.
But speaking at the Public Adminstration Select Committee last month, civil service mandarin Sir Andrew Turnbull said the government was still committed to placing all services online by 2005.
"We are working on the basis of getting up to more or less full coverage by 2005," he told the Committee.
"Squeezing out the last 10 per cent is always the difficult bit in these things, but that remains the commitment."
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said the real issue is achieving a high uptake of services.
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