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e-government in the UK. Professor Helen Margetts Oxford Internet Institute See Oxford Internet Survey (OxIS) for 2005 and 2003 at www.oii.ox.ac.uk. What is e-government?.

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E government in the uk l.jpg

e-government in the UK

Professor Helen Margetts

Oxford Internet Institute

See Oxford Internet Survey (OxIS) for 2005 and 2003 at


What is e government l.jpg
What is e-government?

  • The use by government of the internet and related information technologies internally and to communicate with citizens, businesses and other governments

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Digital-era Governance

  • Reintegration – roll back of agencification, joined up governance, in-sourcing, shared services

  • Needs-based holism – one-stop, zero-stop provision, client based organization, end-to-end service re-engineering

  • Digitisation changes – agencies ‘become’ their web-sites, electronic services delivery, utility computing, zero-touch technology, radical dis-intermediation, customer segmentation

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Problems with government IT

  • ‘Government + IT = disaster’……..

    • National Insurance Contributions Agency (1999), UK Passport agency (2000), Immigration & naturalisation directorate (2001), Criminal Records Bureau (2002), Courts’ Service (2003), Tax Credits (2004), Child Support Agency (2005)……..

      "Great big IT projects, databases and the rest of it have a horrible habit of going wrong'' Patricia Hewitt, trade secretary, BBC Question Time, October 2003

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Policy Innovations with government IT


  • London Congestion Charging Scheme

  • Oyster card ticketing system

  • Electronic tagging of prisoners

  • DNA database

    Big projects coming up

  • Variable road pricing?

  • Biometric ID cards?

  • National Health Service electronic records (£6billion)?

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UK E-government before 2004

  • Prolonged central pressure to outsource (market testing, PFI)

  • Huge long-term contracts (10 yrs typical)

  • Expertise transferred out of government

  • Adversarial ‘Anglo-Saxon’ contracting style: emphasis is on the contract and price reduction

  • Oligopolistic market (top five companies have 90 per cent of market)

  • Dominated by global players (particularly EDS)

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Top 10 UK Central Government IT Contracts, 2002

Supplier Department Start Length Total

date (Years) Value


EDSInland Revenue 1994 10 2,500

EDS Work & Pensions 2000 10 2,000

EDS Employment Service 1998 10 550

ICL Customs & Excise 2000 10 500

Capita Criminal Records Bureau 2000 10 400

ICL Home Office 2000 10 350

ICL Trade & Industry 1998 10+ 150+

SBS Passport Agency 1998 10 230

EDS Child Support Agency 2000 10 200

EDS Prison Service 2000 12 200

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Companies' Share of UK Central Government IT Contracts, Total annual expenditure 2002 = £1 billionSource: Kable, IMRAN

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The Citizenship Test


& Skills











Work & Pensions



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The Citizenship Test


& Skills
















Work & Pensions

S. Sema





Over £100m

Under £100m

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UK e-government policy, 1999-2004

Office of the e-Envoy set up in Cabinet Office in 1999 to:

  • Make UK best environment in world for e-commerce by 2002

  • Ensure everyone who wants it has access to the Internet by 2005

  • Make all government services available electronically by 2005

  • Managed UK government portal (ukonline.gov.uk, then direct.gov.uk), Government Secure Intranet (GSI) and ‘government gateway’ project

  • Monitored e-business strategies of central government departments

  • Annual expenditure of £52 million, running costs £22 million, 250 staff in 2001

  • Closed in 2004

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    UK e-government policy from 2004

    • eGovernment Unit (eGU) based in Cabinet Office

    • Head of egovernment ‘Head of the IT profession’ across Whitehall

    • Responsible for setting architectural standards, encouraging departments to 'join up', and helping improve success rate of major IT programmes.

    • Head of eGovernment analogous to that of a group chief information officer (CIO) in a conglomerate or large enterprise

    • Role covers all government IT, including big transaction-processing systems at heart of government eg. benefit payments, tax collection

    • eGU to develop the government's internal IT and programme management skills.

    • eGU relies on ‘powers of persuasion rather than authority or major budget’

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    E-government strategy 2005

    • ‘Transformational government: ‘The vision is not just about transforming government through technology. It is also about making government transformational through technology.’

    • Shared services

    • IT professionalism

    • Citizen centric government

    • Service Transformation Board - putting heads of big service delivery departments together

    • Plan is to ‘rationalize’ the 2,500 .gov web sites and get everyone using direct.gov as ‘primary on-line entry point’.

      (Note www.directionlessgov.com)

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    e-Government in the UK

    Source: Oxford Internet Survey (OxIS) 2005; N= 1,309 Current Internet users

    Yes = Percentage of Internet Users who have carried out at least one e-Government action within the last 12 months

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    e-Government in the UK – most common use is information seeking

    Source: Oxford Internet Survey (OxIS) 2005; N= 1,309 Current Internet users

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    e-Government by Age seeking

    N = 1,309 Current Internet Users

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    Usage of e-government in UK is comparatively low seeking

    • Of the 60% of population in UK who use the Internet (OXIS, 2005)…

    • ….39% (24% of citizens) have interacted wtih government electronically in last year....

    • in contrast with proportion who have sought product information (87%) or bought on-line (74%) – 50% shop once a month or more

    • Cross-nationally: in 2003 Taylor Nelson Sofres estimated UK level of e-government use at 18% compared with 52% Netherlands, 51% Canada, 47 % Australia, 44% USA

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    Cross-nationally - UK usage of e-government also comparatively low

    % total population

    2003 2002 2001

    Netherlands 52 41 31

    Canada 51 48 46

    Australia 47 46 31

    New Zealand 45 40 NA

    USA 44 43 34

    UK 18 13 11

    Japan 15 13 17

    Source: Taylor Nelson Sofres (2003)

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    Incentivization of e-government comparatively low

    For e-government usage to rise, citizens and businesses have to be incentivized using:

    • Money

    • Authority, i.e. compulsion

    • Time, reducing transaction costs

    • Information and expertise eg. provide informational ‘added value’

      (See H.Margetts and H.Yared (2003) Incentivization of e-government (London: UK National Audit Office) at www.governmentontheweb.org)

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    Demand is there – government citizen interactions are changing.......

    Internet users

    • 52% of users go to Internet first to ‘find name of MP if don’t know it’, 38% to ‘find information on your taxes’ (compared with 70% to ‘plan a journey/book holiday’)

    • It seems that significant chunk of population (around 25% and growing) will interact with government on-line (e-government) as far as possible

    • What experience will they have of interacting with government?

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    If you needed to use the Internet to send an email or something, do you know someone who could do this for you?

    Source: Oxford Internet Survey (OxIS) 2005; N=709 (Non-users); N=167 (Lapsed users)

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    Digital divides in e-government use (UK) something, do you know someone who could do this for you?

    Potential users of e-government (89%)

    Internet first port of call for information– expect to use e-government (25%)

    Internet users – open to using e-government (35%)

    Internet users (60%)

    Could find proxy user for Internet and e-government (29%)

    Non-users (40%)

    Adamant non-users of Internet and e-government (11%)

    Digital divide s l.jpg
    Digital divide(s) something, do you know someone who could do this for you?

    • Digital divides – different people use (or do not use) the Internet in different ways for different things....

    • .....and need to be incentivized differently

      • Money (financial incentives to use e-services)

      • Authority (compulsion to use e-channel)

      • Time (reducing transaction costs of interacting with government)

      • Information and expertise (provide informational ‘added value’ eg. Companies House)

        Eg. Skilled internet users will use general search capabilities rather than portals and government information needs to be easy to find, appear top of search listings, compete with private sector offerings

        For non-users, intermediaries will be key