Citizens Advice Bureaux were not informed or consulted about their projected role in enabling people to participate in e-government, says CAB social policy and information officer Ross Bell.
Briefing documents on the government’s e-government strategy mention the CAB and libraries as possible providers of cheap or free online access to people without a computer.
“We need decent computers ourselves,” said Bell at last week’s Government Information System Managers’ (Govis) Forum in Wellington. Some CAB offices are well equipped, he says, but others — particularly in rural areas where it is most difficult to interact manually with government — have old equipment and “can only afford one hour’s email access a week.” The $25 per month cost of a flat-rate internet connection is outside their budget, he says.
The 10th annual Govis conference was dominated by debate on e-government. There was consensus among speakers on the first day that providing e-information to the public and allowing some e-input did not make them “e-citizens”.