Decision on flagship e-govt project imminent

13 Feb 2003

The Cabinet today is expected to give the go-ahead to the development of the Public Services Broker (PSB), the electronic clearing house for the delivery of a wide range of public services.

Six firms – Accenture, Hewlett-Packard, KPMG (now BearingPoint), Logica (now LogicaCMG), PA Consulting and Siemens – have been shortlisted for the project and Reach, the cross-departmental agency responsible for developing e-government services, is expected to announce the winner by tomorrow.

The PSB is seen as the central nervous system of the Government’s plan to create an integrated online public services framework and will stitch together major projects such as the new €22m automated passport system announced yesterday into a coherent whole.

The PSB will act as a central data vault for citizens, storing their personal details and private information in a way that will enable them to interact with public bodies over the internet.

The Government also plans to use the broker as the basis for a new ‘one-stop-shop’ that would offer citizens a single point of access to public services that are currently provided by a plethora of different public agencies such as local authorities, health boards and government departments.

Reach is in discussion with several departments on a range of customer services for inclusion in the phase one launch of the PSB. The General Register Office may use the PSB for life event certificate requests; the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment for work permits; the Department of Agriculture for animal importation licences; the Revenue Commissioners for tax clearance certificates; the Department of Environment and Local Government for motor tax renewal and related transactions; the Department of Education and Science for looking up exam results and the Civil Service and Local Appointments Commission for public sector job applications.

This multi-million euro project is, however, behind schedule due to inter-departmental wrangles. As reported by in December, a rift between the Department of Finance and Reach revealed a lack of confidence in the management of this online public services strategy and operating costs. Reach came under fire from the Department of Finance for the planning, management and excessive expenditure of the programme.

The PSB is now expected to launch this September, some four months later than planned.

By Lisa Deeney