HIGH TECH STUDY: NEW STRATEGY NEEDED TO SAVE UK ELECTRONIC TAX SERVICES

BY CCIA Staff
June 26, 2002

London, Wednesday, June 26, 2002 – The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) today released a study on the future of E-Government in the United Kingdom. The new public policy analysis calls for reconsideration of the current “Electronic Government” strategy as a result of continuing failures in the government’s online Internet-based systems, where public agencies have utilized taxpayer funding to develop and deploy consumer products and Electronic Commerce services.

CCIA President and CEO Edward J. Black stated that “the continuing crisis with Inland Revenue’s online tax software service underscores the high risks created when government tries to develop and provide consumer products and services which duplicate and compete with private sector Electronic Commerce. Privacy, security and public confidence are all at issue. Reevaluation of the current IR strategy is essential before any further public dollars are invested. IR’s failed online self-assessment system should not be put back into service unless and until the serious problems that have now come to light are thoroughly reevaluated, its true causes and risks are fully and publicly disclosed, and the existing government-centric strategy and policy is carefully reconsidered.”

CCIA is the international high technology industry association, headquartered in Washington, DC, which represents approximately 200 billion pounds in annual global revenues, and includes market leading technology firms as well as wide range of large, medium and small firms in the telecommunications, computing, hardware, software, Internet services and Electronic Commerce industries.

The CCIA study released today, Making It Work: Optimizing Electronic Tax Filing in the United Kingdom, compares and contrasts the Inland Revenue electronic tax strategy with those of its counterparts in Canada and the United States. Noting the growing success and appeal of electronic tax filing throughout North America, the study examines the root causes of the unsuccessful implementation in the UK to date. “One of the essential differences between the North American policy model and the one adopted in the UK is the contrast between successful reliance on private sector market forces vs. troubled reliance on direct government provision of commercial services. Clearly, a new UK strategy is needed.”

The report evaluates recent studies on Electronic Government by the Progressive Policy Institute, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, and a detailed economic policy analysis on Digital Government by the former chief economist of the World Bank, Dr. Joseph Stiglitz, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

“A clear consensus is emerging”, Black stated, “that government cannot solve all problems by itself and is ill-equipped to perform all functions in modern society. Indeed, the fragility of the emerging New Economy requires thoughtful self-restraint by government in order to encourage the competitive growth of private sector high technology markets. In no case should public policy risk substituting expansion of government for national economic expansion. Electronic Government initiatives that duplicate and compete with private sector Electronic Commerce is a risky proposition that ill-serves the best interests of both the consumer and the economy.”

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