ODPM appoints agency for local e-service push

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is set to launch a promotional push to encourage councils to get more local services, such as council tax payments, available online.

Fishburn Hedges has been appointed to launch the nine-month campaign in September and will aim to promote Local e-Government National Projects, a best-practice initiative involving 22 projects run by individual councils.

A £600,000 media relations push will target the 388 local authorities across England in a bid to get customer-facing services such as school admissions online by the Government’s deadline of the end of 2005.

Each project offers practical guidance to assist local authorities in the implementation of e-services.

FH will work alongside PR agency Kaizo, which was hired to advise on strategic planning for the campaign earlier this year (PRWeek, 9 July). FH landed the account following a four-way pitch against Harrison Cowley, Edelman and Firefly Communications.

FH director Victoria Tate said: ‘Our key challenge will be taking e-government out of the IT arena and showing how it is relevant and interesting to the decision makers and implementers in local government.’

She added: ‘We will be looking to promote the human and customer service benefits as much as the technical advantages and cost savings.’

National Projects communications programme director Martin Scarfe said:

‘E-services are at the heart of the overall ambitions of more efficient, citizen-centric services and we are now beginning to see real benefits on the ground.

‘Local authorities have some tough targets to achieve in 2005 and we will be doing all we can to help them to take up tried-and-tested products and services in key priority areas that we know can deliver real benefits,’ he added.

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