29 December 2006

eGovernment - does it work?

eGovernment is a great idea - access to government services at any hour of the day or night. The delivery seems to be a little patchier. My wife paid for her car tax at the end of November using the website and waited for her tax disc.

... and waited for her tax disc

... and waited for her tax disc

Three phone calls, two of which were supposed to have sent replacement tax discs and we still didn't have the disc. For those of you unfamiliar with UK law, it is not enough to pay the annual registration tax for the vehicle, it is illegal not to display the current disc in the corner of the windscreen.

This morning, the third call led to the suggestion that we go to Reading and pick up a disc in the tax office. This piece of eGovernment has now cost me the time wasted chasing the missing disc and a round trip of 35 miles taking over 3 hours since the post-Christmas shopping blitz was going full force in Reading today and traffic was moving at the speed of a tortoise.

Prime Minister, your devotion to eGovernment is welcome - but perhaps you and your team need to focus more strongly on the delivery of the end service than providing a website which takes money. Or, find where in the process things are going wrong - if the tax discs are being sent out then somehow those discs are being removed from the mail before they get to householders. Isn't it time to use some RFID technology to find out just where in the supply chain they are disappearing?

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