PUBLIC SECTOR: Comms breakdowns hamper e-govt drive

A lack of communication between councils' PR and IT teams is slowing the drive towards e-government, the annual report from the Society of IT Management claims.

While many councils are embracing the Government's e-government directive, overall progress remains sluggish with many having 'token' or promotional websites, SOCITM says.

Despite the 2005 deadline for all councils to be able to handle their transactions online, the lack of co-operation between PR and IT teams remains the biggest obstacle to creating and running a fully transactional web-service.

'Successful websites are provided by local administrations where there is a strong collaboration between the IT and communications department.

But the essential component to offering a fully transactional web service is the involvement of the whole council,' said SOCITM press officer Vicky Sargent.

The 'Better Connected?' 2002 report shows 26 per cent have substantially improved their websites since last year - but the number of authorities offering full transactional e-services to council tax-payers has risen by only three, to four.

London borough council websites continue to lead the way in e-government, offering mature e-services when compared with their counterparts in shire and district councils - three of which have yet to set up a website at all.

London's Camden Borough Council, Hertfordshire County Council and Westminster City Council have joined last year's sole fully transactional administration, Tameside (Greater Manchaster), as those councils that met the full SOCITM criteria.

But Bridgenorth District Council (Shropshire), Lichfield District Council (Staffordshire) and the Vale of the White Horse (Oxfordshire) have yet to develop websites.

Corby Borough Council (Northants) was listed as a council without a website, but went online last month.

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