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Don't miss out on e-government.

With the general election looming, the ritual trip to the polling booth is one of the few times many of us will directly play a role in the government of our country. Yet times are changing and with e-commerce it's becoming increasingly convenient for anyone with access to the internet to develop a more proactive and, in the case of businesses, more profitable relationship with local, Welsh and UK governmental bodies.

As with all aspects of e-commerce there is of course a buzz word for this - it's called e-government. For the business community the most significant element of e-government is business to administration (B2A). This is where public sector organisations at both a central and local level offer their services on-line.

At present B2A is one of the least developed areas of e-commerce, yet it offers tremendous potential for growth as many traditional services could be delivered through the internet.

It would for example be hugely convenient if business people could have access to standardised on-line planning application processes, regardless of which local authority they are based in.

This would reduce paperwork and the need to keep physically checking with planning departments, as progress could be reviewed on-line at any time.

Increasingly Welsh local authorities will be looking to procure goods and services electronically.

This means that businesses looking to supply local government, and even the Welsh Assembly Government, will need to ensure that they can trade electronically.

Currently Welsh businesses are being encouraged to register with the Assembly sponsored Sell to Wales (www.sell2wales.co.uk) website. Registering on the site means that a business will be profiled to a whole raft of public sector procurement professionals, and, put simply, if your business isn't included it could well miss out on what are often substantial contracts.

One of the benefits of such schemes are their lack of geographical boundaries, so there is no reason why Welsh businesses should restrict their B2A activity to just Welsh government bodies. Instead, an afternoon or evening spent on the internet registering with other B2A schemes across the UK, is a free and easy way to market your goods and services to the highly lucrative public sector market place.

However, this is a double-edged sword, as it also means businesses across the UK can use the internet to promote their goods and services to our government bodies, and as strict procurement guidelines need to be adhered to, it may well be the case that Welsh government and public sector organisations place more con- tracts with non-Welsh suppliers.

For this reason it is important for all businesses in Wales to proactively use e-commerce to enter the arena of B2A as soon as possible. Further information is on www.opportunitywales.co.uk and a visit to your local authority's website should also provide you with information specific to your area.

The overall success of e-government will depend on the ability to create services around people and their business requirements, simplifying access to government at all levels and ensuring plans are in place to provide services online.

For business people, with the election campaign in full swing, this is an ideal opportunity to ask all the political parties what their plans are for e-government and specifically business to administration.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 20, 2005
Words:542
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