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Ulysses effect: targets in electronic service delivery

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The Labour government's reforms aim to provide more efficient public services that are more relevant to public needs and available 24 hours a day without a wait. A key tool in achieving these objectives is the electronic delivery of public services, using telephones, the internet and other electronic media to make government/public interaction more efficient. Central government has begun a radical process of modernisation by specifying electronic service delivery (ESD) targets for each department and installing a structure to monitor progress. This article outlines how targets can lock government into policy processes with unpredictable consequences, and argues that the methodological and measurement difficulties of target setting in this area can be both a strength and a weakness.

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