The UK, France, Germany, and Italy are making good progress toward meeting the European Union's 2005 deadline for the electronic delivery of government services to citizens, partners, and internal customers, according to a series of studies by independent market analysts, IDC.
According to IDC's survey and forecasts, e-Government related IT spending by those four countries' public-sector administrations is expected to peak in 2004, and to grow significantly by the end of 2006, focusing on the deployment of IT solutions in the following key areas:
· Deploying electronic service delivery
· Improving interaction with citizens through government portals,
· Call centres based on user type rather than service type, and
· Developing e-procurement to cut costs.
· Implementing and modernising administration networks.
The IDC study reveals that the UK government sector is late on a few projects and still has to deal with organisational change and complex relationships with private-sector partners.
However, its well-formulated strategy, the organised supporting structure, and the fair economic outlook (enabling the government to allocate significant funds to IT) will prompt growing investments over the next few years.
Investments are expected to grow at a double-digit rate, with a peak between 2004 and 2005. However, central and local authorities have diverse needs and diverse structures that will require IT vendors to differentiate their approaches.
As well as promoting internal process modernisation, the French public sector has focused on enabling electronic transactions between central and local agencies and their constituents. This includes several initiatives, including the development of web sites, the deployment of full online transaction facilities, and e-procurement systems.
Given the current situation, IDC believes that France still has much work to do with regard to its e-government and IT infrastructure, particularly at the local level. However, the country is in a good position to meet most of its e-government targets and become one of the more advanced countries in the e-Europe 2005 action plan.
The German government began its renovation effort with the modernisation of internal processes to ensure a citizen-centric view is supported by back-end activities.
As a result of this initial focus, outward-looking IT developments started a little later than in other countries. However, the BundOnline 2005 programme at both federal and local levels has made e-government a top priority in terms of IT.
IDC's assessment is that IT vendors will now have the opportunity to bring in their critical competencies to ensure that the 2005 deadline is met both centrally (where plans have already been formulated) and locally (where many authorities are still in the early stages of their e-government strategies).
Despite lagging in IT investment compared with other countries, Italy has implemented some leading-edge solutions in the area of e-Government. The early development of a successful e-procurement platform helped the government to understand that improving accessibility, responsiveness, and the quality of citizen services through multichannel electronic solutions can enhance both social and economic competitiveness. Accordingly, strategic plans and investments in e-government are set to rise in coming years.
The range of IDC's studies on e-Government initiatives in Western Europe include:
· IT Spending for e-Government in France
· IT Spending for e-Government in Germany
· IT Spending for e-Government in Italy
· IT Spending for e-Government in the UK