IDeA leads the way

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 1 July 2004



(2004), "IDeA leads the way", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 53 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

IDeA leads the way

Phil Hope, the minister responsible for local e-government at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), recently announced that the majority of local authorities across the country are making good progress towards the 2005 target for getting all services online.

At the same time, he announced that the ODPM has asked the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) to expand the support it already provides to help councils implement e-government through the creation of two new specialist and complementary units. The IDeA’s e-government director, John Thornton, says: “The two new units are designed to help authorities by injecting additional support and reducing both the costs and risks of implementing e-government”.

The e-Government Strategic Support Unit aims to provide all councils with free access to a level of expertise and assistance that even the largest authorities cannot afford on their own. The e-Government Implementation Support Unit complements this service with tailored assistance, which is available to some of those that need to make more rapid progress. Both units are funded through the Local Government Online programme.

The e-Government Strategic Support Unit is a strategic advisory service on local e-government that is available free of charge to support all local authorities by sharing advice/good practice and by responding to enquiries/problems. It will work on a “research once and share many times” basis and so aims to reduce both the costs and risks of implementation. The advisors are all specialists in specific areas within the local e-government model and will provide in-depth support across the range of National Strategy “building blocks” of local e-government. They will respond to specific enquiries, research areas of difficulty, anticipate future problems, link authorities to national projects and disseminate findings to authorities through a number of channels, such as Web-based and printed publications, the IDeA Website, the e-government resource on IDeA Knowledge, the e-champions network, workshops and seminars.

“We have recruited the best expertise that we can find and have put together a team of advisors – from public and private sector backgrounds – that an authority working alone would find very difficult to match”, stresses Thornton. “Smaller district councils that do not have the capacity of larger authorities are likely to find this particularly useful”.

Thornton adds: “The advisors will be able to track what is happening in terms of suppliers and what is happening across sectors. For example, they will be able to provide the latest information on what is happening in terms of access strategies, the Government Gateway, knowledge management and how best to engage. This will help councils that are perhaps wrestling with a particular issue and would like to see examples of other organisations that have made more progress. The concept behind the Strategic Support Unit is that it is a specialist unit providing a range of advice”.

The e-Government Implementation Support Unit looks to provide assistance to a number of councils that are identified by the ODPM as needing tailored support to meet the 2005 target. It will provide on-site programme/project management assistance, drawing on peer support. The team members have extensive experience in local government, together with the skills to help individual authorities with their improvement plans and to carry forward their e-government programmes.

They will access additional help, support and information for their assigned authorities through the Strategic Support Units and, as a result, will help to deliver better services and information to citizens and businesses. “The implementation managers all have a strong background in local government, so they can hit the ground running, bringing in additional skills and experience”, adds Thornton.

“The implementation managers will help to identify any barriers or issues and work with the authority to establish ways of overcoming them. It could be that it has not collected the right information and presented it in the right way. It could be that it does not have the capacity, or that local factors are getting in the way – or that is not taking advantage of good practice elsewhere”.

Thornton continues: “Between now and 31 March 2005, we can really make a difference. These are complementary units, providing an additional resource that will link in to the IDeA’s e-champions network and the IDeA Knowledge Website, which is already receiving more that 5,000 visits per month from local authorities wanting advice on e-government”.

“Those authorities that are making good progress can use the Strategic Support Unit and those that are not making such good progress may be able to benefit from the services of the Implementation Support Unit. The units are up and running and started to receive calls from local authorities on the very afternoon they were launched”.

“Together, the e-Government Implementation Support Unit and the e-Government Strategic Support Unit will provide a powerful resource that will enable local authorities to access a wealth of expertise and make real progress in implementing e-government”.

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