… from PC Pro, including, at No 7, the whole of e-government:
Back in 1999, when the prime minister Tony Blair promised 100% of government services would be online by 2005, it sounded like groundless bluster, yet now, a year after the deadline, it sounds like, well, groundless bluster.
Though what the 1999 white paper actually said was all services online by 2008, which was then brought forward to 2005 a year later in March 2000 – a date I won’t forget in a hurry, since I joined the Cabinet Office in April 2000 with that commitment essentially as my job description. In the fine tradition of such things, there had been little thought about how it was to happen and plenty of anguished, erudite, esoteric and ultimately meaningless thought about what we would count to know whether it had happened or not.
At the root of the problem is the simple fact that the problem with technology is rarely the technology. There are bits of an online delivery channel which are easier to do today than they were five years ago, but not dramatically and fundamentally so. What has changed is that the perception that there might be something about all this which addresses the core challenges of customer service and efficient delivery is beginning to become more widespread and more mainstream. Which, if we had still had a 2008 target, might have made it achievable – though it wouldn’t have stopped it from having been the wrong target all along.