Citizens portal takes its time to get on-line

9 Nov 00
Confusion still surrounds the delayed launch of the government's Citizens' Portal, aimed at providing a single electronic entry point to all public services.

10 November 2000

The portal was expected to be launched in September when Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the UK Online project. It is based on 'life episodes', such as having a baby or moving house, rather than contact through individual departments.

Speaking at a Local Government Association conference this week, Patricia Hewitt, the minister for e-commerce, denied that there had ever been an official launch date.

'What we have been seeking to do is develop the life episodes and then to make sure that from a number of different points of the system we have got the content we need to meet people's expectations,' she told Public Finance.

When pressed on the timing of a launch, she added: 'As far as I know before Christmas, but I haven't a specific date.'

BT has been given the contract to develop the site, but it is remaining tight-lipped about the reason for the delay. It passes all requests for clarification to its client, the Cabinet Office.

When the contract was awarded in April this year, the Cabinet Office announced that 'a test service will be developed by July 2000 and will formally be launched for public use after the summer holidays'.

Now it says the site is still being developed.


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