Despite a glowing appraisal of e-government projects by the Minister for the Information Society, Mary Hanafin TD (pictured), a new progress report on the New Connections strategy says that the slow delivery of the Public Services Broker (PSB), the electronic clearing house for a wide range of public services, is the biggest issue facing Ireland’s e-government progress.
“Its (the PSB) continued delay will adversely impact on the development of online service delivery in agencies awaiting the shared component that compromise with the broker,” reads the report, which was published yesterday.
“In tandem with the development of the broker, there is also an urgent requirement for common standards (interoperability, security, registration and authentication) to enable service delivery by departments and agencies through the broker,” it continues.
The PSB is seen as the central nervous system of the Government’s plan to create an integrated online public services framework, but it has fallen behind schedule due to inter-departmental wrangles.
As reported by siliconrepublic.com in December, a rift between the Department of Finance and Reach, the cross-departmental agency responsible for developing the PSB, 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.
Reach has made its best-and-final-offer shortlist from the previous shortlist of six firms: Accenture, Hewlett-Packard, KPMG Consulting (now BearingPoint), Logica (now LogicaCMG), PA Consulting and Siemens. However, it has yet to be approved at government level. According a spokesman for Reach, it will be several months before an eventual winner is announced.
Regarding the target of 2005 for the delivery of online public services, the report states that that “there is now a need to refine this target to ensure that optimum results are now achieved in terms of effectiveness and impact”.
Some 14 projects outlined in the action plan have so far been completed, 83 are on target, 57 are falling behind and four are new developments, according to the report.
Completed online services include the Revenue Commissioner’s online vehicle registration tax system and the Central Statistics Office’s online data collection phase two, which was completed ahead of schedule.
By Lisa Deeney