One of the most memorable one-liners from Fawlty Towers is Basil’s observation that if Sybil were to appear on Mastermind her specialist subject would be ‘stating the bleeding obvious’ (excuse the mild expletive!).
That is exactly how I felt when I was reading the special supplement in this week’s Economist on ‘The Electronic Bureaucrat’. There are many good, thought-provoking articles in this supplement. One article does make the blindingly obvious observation that most governments have successfully delivered i-government (the provision of information online) but have, so far, only achieved limited success with e-government (fully-joined up transactional services for citizens).
Another key data point in the article is the analysis by Tameside Borough Council on how the cost of delivering citizen services can be slashed by using a self-service web solution:
|No. of customer visits (‘000s)||Cost per visit, £|
|Customer contact call-centre||315||1.39|
|Self-service on website||680||0.25|
Source: Tameside Borough Council, 2004-05
Although it is clear that online delivery of citizen services can achieve significant economies of scale, every local authority still needs to provide multiple channels of access as digital inclusion for all members of society remains an issue .
The originally flurry of i-government led to a plethora of public sector websites. Directgov has succeeded in reducing the number of central Government websites from 951 to 400 by providing a more centralised information portal but as the Economist feature points out ‘…the essential infrastructure work that comes next is unlikely to capture the imaginations of citizens and the media. It is hard work, plain and simple.’
e-Government – the journey continues. I shall post some good customer examples of e-, not i-government from all parts of the globe in this blog in the coming weeks.
Posted by Ian