Kroes calls for e-government action

The financial crisis gripping Europe makes it imperative that borderless e-government plans are implemented as quickly as possible, Digital Agenda vice president Neelie Kroes says.
The commissioner told the sixth Ministerial eGovernment Conference in Poland that reforms must be accelerated to deliver public efficiency savings and boost the public’s ability to access local government services.
“We should be not more conservative, but all the more ambitious, in our quest to make public efficiency savings. We should not shy away from, but actively seek out, new market opportunities. We should not be scared of, but embrace the possibilities of open data and joined-up service delivery,” Kroes told the conference.
Governments should place citizens at the center of their service planning to make it easier for the public to access the services they need, while technology should also be used to simplify inter-government deals such as procurement, Kroes said.
The commissioner notes that current e-government efforts are “part of the problem,” rather than the solution. “National eGovernment systems have developed in isolation, creating new digital borders where physical ones have long since disappeared,” she said, noting that the result is greater fragmentation of the European Union “rather than unifying it.”
While Kroes made similar points at the previous conference in Belgium a year ago, the EC was able to demonstrate its progress at the recent event. Five large scale pilot schemes covering electronic procurement, identification, business mobility and patient records, are on display at the Polish conference. The pilots are part of a €125.34 million e-government funding program, half of which is provided by the EC.

Kroes called on member states to define, and commit funding to, the cross border services they want to see in action by 2015. “The current climate means that we cannot afford to miss such opportunities to save government money,” she said.