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Portal to ease access to government services

28 November 2001 Media Statement

Portal to ease access to government services

Government information and services will soon be easier to find using the Internet.

State Services Minister Trevor Mallard said that the new government portal, a centrally managed website, will help people and business to find out when and how to interact with government without needing to understand how government is structured.

“It will be heavily focused on what government information and service the public wants and needs via the internet,” Trevor Mallard said.

“Cabinet has agreed to funding towards the development of the portal as a key plank of the E-government Programme. The amount will not be made public for reasons of commercial sensitivity. The portal is scheduled to be live by 1 July 2002.

“The portal will serve as the main entry point to government via the internet for both New Zealanders and foreigners. It is a vital piece of infrastructure.

“Government websites are currently limited in their value because you generally have to know which department has the information you are looking for. With the new portal, finding the right information will be much easier. Government organisations are in the process of standardising the way they describe information and services on their websites. The widespread use of this common approach by government organisations, including the volume and quality of descriptions, will be important factors in the success of the portal."

“For example, finding out about a marriage licence or a driver’s licence using the new portal will involve a quick search. It will also show any available forms that can be completed online. The current process is fairly ad hoc and involves the user knowing which organisation does what.

The new portal will also be in line with the findings of the Ministerial Panel on Business Compliance Costs, by supporting reductions in compliance costs for business through easy access to information and faster transactions. The Companies Office website is a good example of where this is already happening at an agency level.”

Trevor Mallard said that over the next few months teams from the E-government Unit in the State Services Commission will be working with representatives from the community and business to make sure the portal is organised to suit as many search needs as possible. The Unit is already working intensively with government organisations to assist them in their role of describing information and services consistently. A prototype of the portal is being built and will be tested with a wide range of users in and out of government.

Even if the information or service is not directly available from a government website, such as services that require face to face contact, the new portal will help people find out where they need to go or who to contact. All this is being designed and built to operate 24 hours a day, every day, and from anywhere in the world.

The new portal is a natural evolution from the current one, known as NZGO (New Zealand Government Online - www.govt.nz). Further enhancements are planned after July 2002. For example, the expectation is that the reach and depth of what the portal will find will increase, including finding increasing numbers of services or transactions that can be carried out entirely online. The portal will also be built to accommodate bilingual capability.

The new portal will comply with the E-government Unit’s Web Guidelines. The guidelines are aimed at making government websites more accessible. These guidelines, developed by people from all over government, provide good practice information on building websites that can be used with older PC software, low bandwidth Internet connections and equipment such as Braille readers. Government organisations are expected to use the guidelines for any new developments. The Web Guidelines can be found at www.e-government.govt.nz.

ENDS

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