Govt. kiosks go slow on superhighway

Hopes of bringing online government access to the public were dampened this week when Public Service Minister Roger Freeman admitted the Direct Access Government project will take several years to realise.The Inland Revenue, Contributions Agency and Customs and Excise worked together to place six £8,000 touchscreen Internet kiosks in banks, libraries and other public places from County Durham to Plymouth.

Hopes of bringing online government access to the public were dampened this week when Public Service Minister Roger Freeman admitted the Direct Access Government project will take several years to realise.

The Inland Revenue, Contributions Agency and Customs and Excise worked together to place six £8,000 touchscreen Internet kiosks in banks, libraries and other public places from County Durham to Plymouth. Two more kiosks will be installed shortly and the trial will run until March 1997, when progress will be evaluated.

Roger Freeman, who introduced the idea, and is also the first government minister to make a Green Paper available on CD-ROM, yesterday demonstrated a touch-screen kiosk which lets the public view information on government departments, but little else. He said the pilot will run for several years and that electronic government will not happen overnight.

"The kiosks are not interactive at the moment but the public can order leaflets," said a spokeswoman for the government. "We haven't put a time limit on [the trials] and you have to remember this is just a pilot."

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