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Global e-government 18 September
Wednesday, September 18 2002
by Sylvia Leatham

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UK citizens respond warmly to e-government over TV | Federal and State Web sites in the US are starting to take security and privacy more seriously

E-government initiatives by the Irish government are encouraging investment in information management technology in the private sector, according to a keynote speaker at Info Ireland 2002. The annual Info Ireland event focused on how Irish government and Irish businesses are improving efficiency and customer service through the use of information management technologies. Michael Clarke of PricewaterhouseCoopers said, "Initiatives by the Irish government are placing a high level of emphasis on e-government and the need to deliver services electronically. These initiatives are supporting and encouraging information management investment in Ireland and are creating a large number of projects and activities."

An e-government survey in the UK has indicated a positive response to the Office of the e-Envoy's digital TV services. Since the launch of the digital interactive service, which is now available on Sky TV, almost 100,000 households have used the service to access government information on topics such as health, travel and education. The survey showed that 63 percent of people who had used the service were likely to use it again. Forty-three percent of those surveyed said they were "very likely" to apply for a passport through DTV, 32 percent said they would use it to book a driving test, while 29 percent favoured paying their TV licence through the service.

Local authorities in the UK will be able to send bills for council tax and rates via e-mail by April 2003, according to legislation being planned by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Under the proposed legislation, councils will no longer be required to send taxpayers detailed financial statements with every bill, and taxpayers will be able to opt for more concise bills. The government also plans to amend legislation so that bills are deemed to be served when a council has issued a demand notice by e-mail.

Federal and state Web sites in the US are starting to take security and privacy more seriously, according to a new study by Brown University. The Center for Public Policy at Brown's analysis of 1,265 federal and state Web sites showed that 34 percent have a visible security policy, compared with 18 percent last year. The study also found that 43 percent of sites surveyed have some form of privacy policy, up from 28 percent two years ago. Brown researchers also found that 6 percent of government sites had restricted areas.

Federal government officials in the US have been re-evaluating the availability of information on the Web since the September 11 attacks, according to E-gov.com. Tony Cicco, CIO at the General Accounting Office, says the federal government has only removed information that has also been restricted in print. However, some critics are concerned that the Bush administration may be overzealous in its efforts to protect information. Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists says regulations are needed to stipulate what can and cannot be on-line, and he recommends that a registry of federal data on the Web is needed.

Romanian citizens can send on-line petitions to their president and then track their path through the president's Web site, thanks to a new government initiative. The EUR630,000 program was developed for Romania by the Dutch government and UNDP. According to the president's public relations department, all petitions received will be inputted into an electronic database, with the aim of increasing transparency and accelerating the resolution of petitions.

Government departments in New Zealand have shown reluctance to use a new on-line purchasing system. Earlier this year, the government paid Cap Gemini Ernst and Young NZD7.5 million for a cross-department e-procurement system that the government hoped would save it NZD20 million over five years. A pilot set up to test the service has suffered from poor levels of take-up among civil service departments, however. Brendan Boyle, head of the administration's e-government Unit, said the project may now have to be scaled back.

According to a report on ArabNews.com, an e-government initiative in Saudi Arabia is hoping to encourage women to invest their money. The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) wants women to invest the estimated SAR60 billion (EUR13.4 billion) they own in savings and deposits. Abdul Majeed Al-Awadhi, director general of SAGIA, said an e-government system would soon be introduced that would enable essential investment licences to be issued to applicants who apply via the Internet.



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