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UK's e-government schemes 'lack depth'

A report from Accenture has classed the UK as a follower when it comes to e-government, and criticised the depth of services available online
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Written by Steve Ranger, Editorial director, ZDNet on

The UK has slipped down a rung in e-government league tables compiled by Accenture, which blames the slide on the lack of depth in the public services currently online.

This year the UK stands at joint tenth in the annual rankings, down one place from last year.

Canada leads the way, followed by the US, Denmark, Singapore and Australia in terms of overall "maturity" scores, with the UK characterised as a "follower".

While the UK's service breadth maturity was rated at 92 percent (one point above average) its service depth maturity was rated at just 63 percent — well below Canada's 80 percent. The UK was also rated sixteenth for overall customer service maturity, with Canada top, followed by the US.

Marcus Robinson, head of the UK government practice at Accenture, told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com: "We are pretty low down the rankings. While we have a good breadth of service online there isn't much depth to it — you can browse but not really shop.

"In terms of what we can really do the answer is 'not very much' and we aren't seeing much usage. Unless you have transactional services you don't get much usage," he added.

But it is not all bad news for the UK — Accenture said broad changes to the UK's e-government programme in the past year "may point to improved effectiveness in the near future." And it highlighted the ongoing development of lifelong electronic health records by the NHS, described as a "cross-government collaboration at its best".

"The thing that drags us down the rankings is the disparity between breadth and depth. I would hope we would be getting up to fifth or sixth next year," said Robinson.

Accenture said governments are now focusing on putting the citizen at the centre of a multi-channel public service offering: "E-government has come as far as it can on its own," said Robinson.

The consultancy firm said customer service, not putting more services online, is key: "The government of the future must be ready for the customer of the future: the up-and-coming generation, with a familiarity and ease with multiple technologies and an assumption of always-on service, ready for them whenever they desire," the report said.

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