e-targets could be tightened up

10 Feb 00
The targets announced by Tony Blair for the government's use of the Internet are under review and could be toughened following criticism that they are too general and vague.

11 February 2000

Alex Allan, the government's e-envoy, told a conference of civil servants this week that: 'We are looking at the targets. Should they be redefined? Can we bring them forward?'

The current targets were announced in the Modernising Government white paper of March 1999. They say that 25% of transactions between citizens and government should be capable of being conducted electronically by 2002. This should reach 50% by 2005 and 100% by 2008.

But there have been criticisms that telephone calls and automatic credit transfers are defined as 'electronic', meaning that many departments have already hit the 25% target. There are also no individual targets for departments and agencies that deal directly with the public, such as the Department of Social Security.

'The targets are oppressive for the laggards but put no pressure on well placed agencies,' said Professor Patrick Dunleavy from the London School of Economics, who also spoke at the conference and co-authored a report on this subject for the National Audit Office.

Allan sidestepped the question. 'We are not in the business of forcing the entire population that the only way they can deal with any government service is through the web.'


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