An internet site launched by the Swiss authorities will not be as ambitious as originally planned.
Although the cantons are supporting the initiative, they are calling for the site to be made into a conventional information portal without interactive elements.
The website, www.ch.ch, offer access to administrative services at a federal, cantonal and local level. It is available in Switzerland’s four national languages and English.
The federal authorities have made it clear they want Switzerland to set an international example when it comes to virtual government.
In 2000, they came to an agreement with the cantons and the communes to develop the site as part of a long-term e-government project.
Under the plans, civil servants would be able to access information held on the site using a password and contact different authorities on a whole range of issues.
But in a review of the plans last autumn the cantons called for a re-think of the online strategy.
Senior government official Hanna Muralt-Müller said the review had been undertaken because of the complexity and cost of the project.
The cantons are opposed to an internet portal offering the possibility of interactive web services.
They want to contribute a reduced sum of SFr1.2 million ($960,000) to the project out of a total budget of SFr3.6 million.
Although there is disagreement about the content of www.ch.ch, Claudio Riesen of canton Graubünden said the cantons were fully behind the initiative.
“The project is unique in its field and the cantons in particular are looking forward to it,” he said.
Riesen said that though the site would not now have interactive elements, individual cantons could take part in other internet pilot projects run by the federal authorities.
One project currently underway in canton Neuchâtel is aiming to identify who is most likely to use online e-government services.
The second involves the Federal Court and envisages the automatic exchange of information between cantonal authorities.
The two projects will be completed by the end of the year, after which the cantons will be able to decide if they wish to pursue them.
“I am very happy because at least five cantons have already indicated they want to pursue the development of pilot projects leading to interactivity,” commented Muralt-Müller.
“It was always clear that we first had to pass the stage of a portal which only offered information,” she added.
www.ch.ch is a guide to Swiss administrative services at the federal level, and in the cantons and communes.
It contains basic information on administrative procedures and connects the user to the service required.
By the end of 2004, there will be some 30 themes covering the most important administrative processes of daily life in Switzerland.
The Swiss e-government initiative, www.ch.ch, will not be as ambitious as was planned when the project was launched in 2000.
When it officially starts next year, it will be an information portal and will not contain interactive elements as originally planned.
The cantons are prepared to pay some SFr1.2 million ($960,000) of the total annual costs of SFr3.6 million.
The Swiss government presented its global strategy for electronic voting last year. E-voting trials have already taken place in canton Geneva.
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