The UK government has introduced a fresh package of proposals to make government more open and accessible via email and the Web.
Ian McCartney, minister of state at the Home Office, described the proposals as "ambitious", and said, "the initiative will ensure our government plays a leading part in the radical transformation of our society through new technology."
The proposals are focused on three main areas - making public services convenient and accessible to all, banishing bureaucracy, and managing information and modernizing government by applying e-business methods to its practices.
A government Web-portal launches in July. This will be a single point of entry to central and local government. Britons will be able to access the information and departments they need, and sign up for information updates and reminders, the government promises.
The Tax Return service is available now, this allows tax forms to be sent electronically, and offers discounts on tax bills. A small business advice service is also promised, as is an Employment Service Web site with job vacancies visible online, which is expected to launch this autumn.
Prime Minister Tony Blair made a recent commitment to getting everyone onto the Internet by 2005. All schools and libraries are expected to have Internet facilities by 2002. The government has also introduced an 80 per cent discount on basic IT courses, tax breaks for companies that loan computers to employees, and a lease scheme for computers for poorer families. In a further boost to the UKs online presence, the government has promised to open over 700 IT access centres by 2001.