Fresh way to measure e-government

7 Jun 01
A new, more meaningful measure of councils' progress in getting all services on-line by 2005 is likely to be adopted during the summer.

08 June 2001

It follows the unpopular Best Value performance indicator, BVPI 157, unveiled in January. Council managers complained that the indicator was difficult to interpret and that it failed to address confusion over what actually constituted an electronic service and the number of transaction types that needed to be measured and tracked.

A proposal from the Society of IT Management (Socitm) this week is being seen as an attempt to clarify the issue and produce a more useful indicator.

The original guidance on the indicator from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions identified ten different types of interaction that can occur between a council and a citizen and also called on councils to produce scores for how e-enabled individual council services work.

A single composite score for the whole council would have allowed quick comparison with the government's 100% target.

'The problem was it wasn't clear what we were meant to be measuring and the BVPI as it stood was meaningless,' said Simon Berlin, head of e-government at the London Borough of Lewisham.

The new guidance from Socitm reduces the number of interaction types to six: information provision; applying for something; booking a service; payments in; payments out; and feedback.

It also proposes dropping the crude model for 'assessing the state of preparedness'.

According to John Serle, chair of Socitm's Best Value group, which led the work on the revised guidance, analysing councils' progress on e-government across these six categories should be more useful to ministers than coming up with a simple overall score.

'Ministers can see where the deficiencies are and can direct money at specific target areas,' he said. 'This is smart measurement and it is do-able.'

However, there was still confusion this week over the status of the guidance. Socitm said it was a result of collaboration with the DETR and 'has immediate effect, and authorities should start using this to calculate the 2001/02 indicator'.

But Tony Teehan, head of local authority e-government at DETR, told Public Finance that, while the proposal was 'very helpful', it would be fed into the usual review of performance indicators over the summer.

'You can't change the rules half way through the year,' he said.


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