The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) has established a standards body to cut out any duplication of resources for developing electronic services in local government.
The Local e-Government Standards Body, which is the latest National Project, will provide councils and their IT partners with information on existing e-developments to prevent authorities making unnecessary investments and effort.
"The primary aim of the e-Standards Body is to provide easy access to comprehensive and authoritative best practice and information on local service interoperability standards; analysis and development of standards and scrutiny of e-government projects," said an ODPM statement.
The body will receive £2.5m from the ODPM but is expected to be self-financing before its government funding ends. One source close to local e-government developments said the funding is expected to run through 2005.
Local councils have welcomed the e-Government Standards Body as the 2005 government deadline gets closer.
"It's great that it is there but it will be challenging because it has come this late," said Rod Matthews, head of information society technology at Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
He said local e-government would benefit from universal standards. "We need to get it right first time because we cannot afford the redundancy in local government," he added.
Matthews cited the creation of a universal person identification number, which covers all services, as a priority that the new body should work on. "One number for central and local government services would encourage the use of e-services," he said.
Local government IT organisation Socitm will have representation on the board. Kate Mountain, chief executive of the group, said the new body could have been created earlier but "it is just in time because the National Projects are just starting and this gives a good platform for standards".
She added that universal citizen log-on was just one area that had been identified for consideration by the body. "Citizens will have one log-in, and if they give information to one department it can be used by others."
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