Electronic government, information communication technologies and social inclusion
The UK's E-Government agenda was found on the principles of improving the quality of services offered to the public by Central and Local Government. This would be made possible through various national projects. Most notable were the use of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Community Informatics involving the use of public libraries and outreach workers. However there is growing fear on the emergence of inequalities between the information rich and information poor termed the 'digital divide'. This has prompted the subject of research - to explore the reality of e-government in reducing social exclusion. Both qualitative and quantitative research techniques are used to this end. Analysis is made on the use of CRM in 27 Local Authorities including a detailed case study at Newham Council and a public survey in Salford. Universal access and social inclusion is tackled through the analysis of public libraries in Salford offering ICT services. In addition the effects of free ICT courses organised by Salford City Council on a number of community groups was included in the survey. The findings confirm the widespread use of CRM and reveal a series of barriers to its success. These include a lack of skilled CRM staff, inefficiencies in channel management, high emphasis on technology, and low levels of ICT usage. Results from the public library survey also revealed some barriers. Inadequate staffing levels, inappropriate training, and lack of IT support were all identified. In addition the library failed to attract novices and new users. The evaluation of Community Informatics in Salford showed the problems faced by outreach workers. As well as providing some academic research in a field lacking representation in IS research (due largely to recent emergence), the thesis also contributes to E-Government practice by, highlighting issues often over looked in its implementation, addressing its failures, and providing some reasoning on the current situation.