The Electronic Government Partners Forum was announced on Monday by Public Service Minister Peter Kilfoyle at conference sponsored by Bull, NatWest, ICL, Deloitte Consulting and BT. The Forum will tap the brains of the leaders in the IT sector, industry bodies and the Cabinet Office's Central IT Unit (Citu) leveraging the private sector's input in the emerging electronic government initiative. Members of the new Forum, who will meet every ten to 12 weeks, have yet to be confirmed.
"Our vision is of user-friendly, accessible and high-quality government services available when and where people want them. Closer collaboration with the IT industry will help bring the benefits of the IT revolution to everybody," said Kilfoyle.
At the Labour Party Conference last year, Tony Blair said the government aimed to deliver 25% of all public services electronically by 2002. One year after the Prime Minster set the target, a number of technology-driven projects have been launched including a Government Secure Intranet, National Grid for Learning, University for Business, an NHS Superhighway and a tele-medicine service. And one-stop Internet service called Direct Access Government is also under consideration.
"We are confident that our programme to modernise government will set the pace not only in this country but also globally," said Kilfoyle. "For those of you not yet involved, I would challenge you to consider how technology can be used as a lever to modernise government and bring about the changes in your organisation, that are already happening in others," he added.
Fruits of the Forum's brainstorming will be fed directly to Kilfoyle and Cabinet Officer Minister Jack Cunningham and will impact the government's upcoming White Paper on 'better government' which is due in the New Year.
The Internet will be one the main vehicles in wiring up Whitehall and allowing the public to have better access to the government, Kilfoyle said. But he conceded that technophobia, particularly among the elderly, was a real issue. To this end, the government plans to provide services in more traditional forms to allay those fears.