Government high-tech plans to shake up Whitehall

Is Knowledge Network Project a way to streamline the civil service, or a tool to enforce party loyalty?

The government is to launch an electronic information system aimed at streamlining the civil service and eliminating bureaucracy, it was announced last week.

The system, dubbed the Knowledge Network Project has been criticised in the press as a means for keeping Whitehall in tune with the Labour Party message.

This is denied by the Cabinet Office, which is instigating the project. "That is not at all true," a Cabinet Office spokeswoman said. "It is for officials that want to find out about specific projects and rather than ring round and email, the information will be immediately accessible," she said. She stressed that the information was not intended for political purposes, either now or in the future.

The government has come in for criticism in recent weeks for its e-government plans. In December, a report by the National Audit Office claimed millions of pounds of taxpayer's money is being wasted due to inefficient use of the Net. This week, the Commons public accounts committee revealed that over 20 recent government IT projects had been unsuccessful.

Labour MP and head of the all-party Internet group Derek Wyatt believes that more efficient use of the Net could eliminate the need for the civil service altogether.

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