The State Services Commission is to look seriously at the pathways government may take to hasten the development of electronic government.
A spokesperson for Minister of State Services ,Trevor Mallard, confirms that an official announcement of a new initiative in the e-government area will be made "early next month". Mallard is also Acting Minister of Commerce and Information Technology, while Paul Swain recovers from a second operation to correct the near-fatal perforated bowel he suffered shortly after last year's election.
Questions to the SSC were referred to deputy commissioner Ross Tanner, who was overseas last week and couldn't be contacted.
The plan apparently involves the setting up of a body within the SSC with substantial finance and a secretariat, to progress the evolution of e-government over the various government departments. But sources in government say the investigation is at an early stage, and a strategy for approaching it has not even been settled yet.
In its briefing to the incoming minister last December, the SSC flags the question of e-government as one of six key topics to be tackled in the coming year. Commissioner Michael Wintringham points to the potential of e-government to "integrate, streamline and customise the delivery of services to citizens, to improve the quality of decision-making and to allow greater involvement of citizens in government processes".
However, he also points to the danger of "disenfranchising" those who do not have access to newer technologies.