In the bid to place a rationale against electronic or transformational government there has been a further exercise to build an accounting process that supports it. Some have used Activity Based Costing (ABC) or a similar range of fairly simple tools to put figures on processes.
Quite a long while ago in terms of this new world I had concerns about electronic processes transfering costs to third parties or the citizen in this way and indirectly adding costs to their equations whilst subtracting them from government’s.
OK, not having to travel to an office to see someone and being able to ‘phone or do it via a web site is cheaper but a number of government bodies are not offering the web option and pushing services via the ‘phone – this may be easier for the council but frequently fails on the 24 x 7 x 365 preference.
Do these accounting methods handle both sides of the equation, the citizen and the government?
When electronic forms are made available or council documents posted electronically, the citizen or their representative might now need to print them out (instead of the government body) – is that cost and time accounted for?
This may be penny-pinching and nit-picking but I saw recent publicity claiming vast savings for online services when in one case they were only available by ‘phone on a nine to five basis and the other was Internet payment which actually costs the local authority a lot of money to establish and run.
The blogger is Mick Phythian, a Research Associate at De Montfort University in Leicester, U.K. and former ICT Manager at Ryedale District Council in North Yorkshire, England. He was also a founder member of the Local CIO Council and regional Chair of Socitm.
Any opinions expressed on this weblog are purely those of the author.
He is not the Great Emancipator! The Great Emancipator was President Abraham Lincoln. The blog is so-called because some people perceive e-government, transformational government or, heaven forbid, government to be the emancipator of us all...